[E]ach year thousands of minor boys from Africa are taken to foreign countries by dubious soccer agents who promise them a contract with famous football clubs such as FC Barcelona or FC Saint Germain. Their families pay thousands of Euros for visa, flight tickets and agent’s commission without knowing that their boys won’t be able to play soccer abroad. The promises are false, Fifa doesn’t allow clubs to engage minor aged foreigners and the boys are left alone by their agents when they reach the foreign country.
This is what happened to Daniel, a young Cameroonian soccer player who came to Argentina four years ago at the age of 14. After having been left by his fake agent, he eked out a living in Buenos Aires during six months as an illegal migrant. There was no possibility to go to school or to play soccer in a professional club. Then a man told him about a club for soccer players without contract. There he started to train, to stay fit for his dream. There the trainer asked him about his age. Fifteen. If he had papers. He didn’t. The man told him to go to migration office and he presented him to a woman who was agreed to take legal tutelage for Daniel. That’s how he could legalize his papers in Argentina.
One year after he had left Cameroon, he started to go to school again. The Argentinian state supported him financially. He studied Spanish and found new friends. Today he’s glad that he heeded the advice of his trainer. But Daniel is still dreaming of becoming a professional football player. His 18th birthday was an important day for him, because thenceforward he could be engaged by a soccer club legally. And in fact there was a small club in the province of Buenos Aires who wanted him as a soccer player: Huracán Tres Arroyos.
Until now Daniel didn’t get money from this club. He lives where there are no asphalt streets anymore, in a run-down building without heater. Most of his time he spends alone, he talks to his father in Cameroon on telephone and watches soccer games on television. Sometimes he takes care of the soccer ground next to the house where he is living. Even so Daniel thinks that he advanced in making his dream become true. At least now he’s able to bring his family in Cameroon good news from time to time. For example this, that his soccer club won the last game four to two.
Q&A with Hanna Silbermayr
a way to tell stories in one universal language without using words.
Photography and writing…
sometimes have to be used together to explain bigger contexts.
Who left the biggest impression on you?
It’s definitly my mother who raised 8 children and started to study again after having the last one.
Tell us a little about yourself
I was raised in a small town in the countryside. Life changed after I went abroad to spend one year in a big Latin American city. These months broadened my horizon and guided me to where I am now: working as a freelance journalist with special focus on migration, Latin America and global inequalities.
Hanna Silbermayr (www.hannasilbermayr.com) Austrian Freelance Journalist and Photographer. Studied Political Science and Romance Language and Literature. Focus on Latin America, Migration, Social Protests and Global Inequality.