I Wanna Be Messi

Antonio Aragon Renuncio, Nicaragua

Football is not a privilege, it is a right. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, football is a universal language for millions of people around the world, including children, regardless of where they come from, what language they speak or what religion they belong to.
In the heart of Africa there is a small center for children with severe and profound physical and intellectual disabilities. A beautiful place that tries to provide these kids the specialized attention they need to improve their quality of life. In Africa, children with disabilities are a high risk of physical/emotional/sexual abuse as well as being abandoned by the family. There is a perception that the disabilities are due to a divine punishment. Theses minors (known as “snakes” as they lie on the ground) are considered “demons“ and are drowned into the river in rituals “for the serpent to leave.“
Meanwhile, for these happy children from Saint Louis Orione Center in Bombouaka, it‘s all about football and a ball. They all are Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Everything is about Madrid and Barça. Shouting happily, running free, football jerseys, Champions League on TV… football brings them peace and freedom. Peace for their souls and freedom for their minds… Football is the most popular sport on earth. More than a game, it‘s a lifestyle. More and more children are dreaming of becoming the new star of the ‚beautiful game‘ in search of their next goal…

Discover more: Shortlist 2020