Adil came home from school in a bad temper. He slammed the door shut behind him with a bang and flung his school bag on the floor. Hearing the commotion, his father called out to him
“What’s the matter, Adil? Is everything okay?”
“I will never play football again. Never, never, ever again,” Adil replied. He was almost in tears. “I cannot believe what they did. How can they be so unfair?”
Adil’s father realised that his son was extremely upset, so he warmly called out, “Come here and sit down. What’s the matter? Tell me.”
Adil sat down on the sofa beside his father.
“Dad, there is going to be an Under-16 football tournament in Malaysia next month. We have spent every free minute practising and training. Today, the coach and our headmaster were going to name the final team and most importantly the captain. Well, they have named Sameer as the captain. He is not even a good player. His father is rich and has some political connections so he called the headmaster and they made Sameer the captain.
“Can you believe it? I am not going to be part of this team and I am never going to play football again!” mourned Sameer.
Adil’s father listened to his son calmly.
“Adil, you have always dreamt of playing for your country and making a name for yourself. Are you really going to let one disappointment shatter all your dreams?”
“But dad, it’s not fair….” said Adil.
“Maybe it is not. But Adil, there are lots of instances in life where you will be tested. There will be obstacles which you will have to overcome and disappointments that you might have to suffer. Who knows where Sameer will be in five years from now and where you might find yourself? Will you give up your dreams just because of one phone call?
“Wouldn’t it be better if you worked harder and tried to play for Pakistan? It does not matter whether you are the captain or not. Each player in a team is equally important.”
Seeing that his son still looked angry and mutinous, he continued:
“Let me tell you a story. Once, a man watched a butterfly trying to get out of its cocoon. The butterfly struggled and struggled till the man felt sorry for the poor insect. He cut open the cocoon so that the butterfly could fly free. However, the butterfly had to struggle so that its wings could develop and become strong.”
“Dad,” Adil interrupted impatiently. “I am talking about football and you are telling me about butterfly wings!”
“That is what I am trying to tell you, my son. Sometimes life makes us struggle so that we can develop the strength to face difficulties. Those who give up easily, do not want to make any effort or get the wrong sort of help and they are never prepared for the next obstacle or the next battle that comes in their way. So they never learn to fly on their own or stand up on their feet.”
“When you play football, you have to compete against 11 players. There is a goalkeeper to block your every goal. Would football still be fun if there was no goalkeeper and you could kick in the ball as many times as you liked?”
Adil listened to his father’s words seriously and realised what he was unable to understand.
“I promise to do my best, dad,” he said with a smile. “I won’t run away from any challenge again.”