Working hard is not about ambition or desire.
It's about integrity.
Doing your best is just a matter of integrity, because not honoring a gift would be a real disgrace.
In fact, not all gifts have the great fortune of being transformed into something tangible, or to become big enough to unite people and different countries of the world, starting from an invisible, small, seed.
Maybe everything was already written in the stars for me.
I was born in Uruguay and in the dusty streets of Montevideo the main hobby, the unique hobby, was football. Every single day, from the moment school finished, and until the sun was gone, we played soccer.
Till exhaustion, with our mothers, real fans, who use to shout our names from the bottom of the street, to make us go back home.
Every day, we played on the street, which was like a second mother for all of us.
When someone shouted “car!” we knew we needed to hide quick. Sometimes the ball was just a pair of rolled socks, held together with pieces of tape.
Then, the years of organized football came, and it was clear immediately, to me before everyone else, that it would be my future. I was good. I had talent.
My dad was a successful business owner.
Economically, we had a peaceful life, because he owned some race horses, a night club and a gas station.
Then he found out he had cancer.
After that, a terrible recession brought the nation to its knees, frustrating years of economic growth. Our love and a thousand dollars: my father found himself with this and nothing else, in his pocket.
We knew it would take a lot more to stop my father from thinking big, so he took the latest savings and flew to Miami where he started working on humble jobs.
Within a few months he saved some money and the whole family joined him in the land of opportunity, looking for a better future.
Football, however, was not an interest of American teenagers in the 90s; I found myself alone with the ball and my desire to play, on the sunny streets of Florida.
Within the projects that we discussed at home, everyone thought that good school grades and my talent with the feet, would earn me a college scholarship.
But I didn’t care much about obedience and school. I preferred to devote myself to the street life, and ended up finding friendships that were not highly recommended.
The neighborhood conditioned me a lot during my growth.
My approach made the life at home very complicated, and my parents kicked me out when I was only 16 years old.
Left alone, after not having a place to sleep for a few nights, I started to couch surf, asking for hospitality in the living rooms of all my friends.
And I’m truly grateful for that. Shoutout to my SoBe family!
At the time, the relationship between me and my father was not a simple one.
Maybe, in his head, he was afraid. Fear that I were not successful, that I did not grow in the manner described in the manuals.
But I had to make mistakes, to make my mistakes. Finding myself in front of crossroads and taking the wrong turn, without following a defined path. Sorry dad.
I've always had a curious soul.
At least once, I have to feel free to bang my head against the wall.
If I go back and do it again, then it's my fault.
Because it is only by mistake that, at times, we understand important things and find pieces of our destiny.
One day I happened to be in the middle of a beach volley game, it was summer, because in Miami it's always summer, and we played four against four.
I had no idea what I was doing on the court, how to move or how to find the right way to hit the ball. But I fell in love anyway.
Exactly an hour later, after the game was over, I went to the nearest kiosk I found and pointed to the $ 5 ball: "that one!".
I chose a court, and for 4 years, every day of the week, I showed up, happy to play with anyone who wanted to play with me.
From eight in the morning till nine in the evening.
Anyone who came to my court had something in their style that I could steal: a unique way of hitting the ball, a shot never seen before, an idea.
Good or bad, young or old, male or female, I learned a little bit from everyone, until the day I was ready to translate the game into my own language.
"You are too short to play beach volleyball!” People's comments.
The most difficult challenge was not to become a good player, because the talent supported my desire, but it was to ignore the comments whispered by the people, including close friends, who strongly advised me not to take the beach route.
Classic topics: short, not fast enough, not too technical.
It would have been infinitely easier not to try.
To leave a dream immediately, a few moments after realizing it.
It’s important, however, never to lose sight of the truth: at any sport, it’s not essential to be the tallest or the fastest, the key is to develop the necessary skills to become pretty damn good to compete at the highest level... Skills can’t be measured by numbers.
Of course, you don't get it overnight, but I can assure you that no one has done more hours than I did in Miami’s beaches.
I put in the work.
Driven by my fire, by a wild attitude, by the desire not to waste the talent that I have and the responsibility that I’ve always felt to honor it.
I wanted to prove to the detractors wrong, and the bigger, the taller, and the fastest my opponents were, the more I wanted to humiliate them on the court. It was all about proving a point, about having a chip on my shoulders.
Obviously, to become good, talent and work were not enough, I needed to gather courage.
On the court I quickly understood that I needed to be different, it was truly a blessing since it felt like I was able to cut some corners, I started hitting my shots, serving my serves, setting my sets, guided by my instinct but also by the strength of my sense of urgency. Not only did I want to become good, but in a short period of time. Thousands of videos and attempts to achieve one goal: to understand the game.
I started seeing things in my mind, tactics and skills that would fit my game.
And this is where courage comes into play.
In beach volley, as in personal relationships or in business, there is a space between narrative and gesture, and that space can only be filled with courage.
If you're wrong in a high-level context, with a creative and unconventional play, everything changes.
The public, the teammates, the opponents, the expectations, the press, the coach, the professionals: all will express a judgment.
But is precisely the one who plays with determination and courage that breaks the barriers and takes everything to the next level.
Having talent is a gift.
It must be guided, disciplined, explored, expressed. That’s why being brave is the next key factor. Because sooner or later you must keep pushing that limit to continue to evolve.
Basis for any recipe: talent, creativity and courage.
This brought me this far and gave me an identity.
I understood who I am and where I want to go, looking to leave a mark everywhere I go. Everyone has a talent but not everyone is lucky enough to find out what their true identity is. For some the way is meditation, for others is to travel.
Identity is what gives you a platform, a brand.
There are people who try to skyball on beaches all over the world, I have seen them in India, Europe and South America, Australia and Japan, really everywhere, and I truly feel that my love for the game has served and already left something behind.
It doesn't matter how big your platform is, what’s important is that you use is for something greater than just you.