YES Programs



A Kickstart to Transformation: Finding Confidence in Soccer

Wahab with this soccer teammates.

By Wahab Shah (YES 2023-2024, Pakistan, placed by Greenheart in Fabius, NY)

As I embarked on my exchange program to the United States, little did I anticipate becoming a member of the school's soccer team. Soccer wasn't a sport I pursued back home, but the exchange program became a catalyst for change, altering my perspective on sports and fostering personal growth.

Curiosity and peer influence led me to explore soccer, epitomizing the essence of the exchange program – stepping out of my comfort zone. With guidance from my local coordinator, I approached the coach and admitted my lack of soccer experience. Surprisingly, he welcomed me, emphasizing the transformative power of enthusiasm and commitment.

Initially challenging, with cramping muscles and fumbling ball skills, the encouragement from my teammates became my driving force. Beyond learning soccer, I grasped the value of teamwork and resilience.

Wahab playing soccer on the field during a game.

As weeks passed, daily practice, advice from teammates, and the coach's guidance gradually improved my skills. Then, the unexpected moment arrived – I was selected to play in a real game. It was an exhilarating experience, a surge of emotions all at once. The resounding cheers from the sidelines and the unwavering encouragement from my teammates amplified my confidence.

While I may not have been the star player, being part of something bigger was a proud moment. This soccer journey taught me valuable lessons beyond the sport, emphasizing the rewards of taking risks, stepping out of my comfort zone, and embracing new experiences. It served as a platform to make new friends from a different country, and though the soccer season has concluded, my connection with my teammates endures.

In conclusion, my decision to play soccer during the exchange program has been transformative, opening new horizons and uplifting the essence of cultural exchange. Embracing the unknown, learning, and growing on the soccer field have become indelible parts of my personal journey.