The Little Kylian Mbappe

By Jeanpierre Tuyishime

I remember the time I saw my fifteen-year-old nephew sitting alone in the living room talking to himself. I did not provoke him but I slowly went closer to hear what he was saying. It was early in the morning around 5 am, and he was preparing himself to go for a football training session. He looked nice in his jersey and I was still wearing my bathing towel since I was about to have a shower. This was my first time hearing him talk to himself, and I was surprised. “When I grow up, I want to be like Kylian Mbappe,” this is what he was saying. I interrupted him by laughing out loud. He asked me, “Uncle, what are you laughing at?” I replied with a smile that he has a great dream of becoming the future Kylian Mbappe. He told me that he has already started working on it and he will achieve the dream no matter how long it takes.

My nephew goes to football training on a daily basis to make sure that he gains more skills. He does not miss any football match because he is in the first squad. As of now, his position is number 10 and it is printed on his jersey like Kylian Mbappe. His team always relies on him when it comes to winning. My nephew is a scoring machine. One game stands out to me among the many that I have observed. This was last year during summer time. His team “Young Talent” was playing “Kalembelembe”. I had brought some snacks for myself and my nephew to eat after the game. I brought him his favorite snack called Chapatti Mayai since he is always hungry after a game. To prevent the snack from becoming cold, I stored it in the small hot-pot and carried it in my black bag. The game ended 3-1 and my nephew’s team won. My nephew scored two goals on this day and I was very proud of him. Though I came a bit late and missed his first goal, I was there for the second one. When he scored the second goal, he came running to me to celebrate. I could not help myself from entering the field and hugging him. I whispered in his ears that I was happy for him. This was the moment when I saw my nephew happier than any other day.

My nephew makes me think of my younger self. My favorite sport was football, too, and Ronaldinho was my hero. He played quite well, and I hoped to someday play as good as he played. But as I developed, my dreams changed. Due to an injury on my left hand from a motorbike accident, the doctor recommended that I not play football again. When the doctor told me this, I became depressed. I really wanted to focus on football and make it my career but my dream died due to the accident. I pray hard that nothing bad comes between my nephew’s dream of becoming like his hero Kylian Mbappe.

My nephew thinks about football all day, even when studying in his room. Anyone who has been inside a home in Malawi knows that the walls are hard to decorate but my nephew tried his best to hang some beautiful pictures of his role model Kylian Mbappe. I discovered that he was decorating his room this way the time I went to give him a calculator that he requested I buy for him. At that time, he was preparing for his mid-term test in form 1 highschool. When I entered his room, I was surprised and excited to see the pictures of Kylian Mbappe all over the walls. I asked him why he did that and he told me that the pictures motivate him. He is inspired to become like Mbappe when he looks at them every morning when he wakes up. I remembered the morning I found him talking to himself, describing his dream in words. Whenever I picture his room or hear the words he spoke to himself in my own head, I become so happy to see how my little nephew dreams big. Every person needs a goal, which is what gives hope in life.

During the final match at the 2022 World Cup, my nephew cried many tears. I was watching the game with him in the living room at home with two of my friends. Since I knew that Kylian Mbappe was his favorite, when the match finished, I told my nephew to come closer to me and talk. The look on his face made me feel so bad. I always wish for him to smile. I was not happy to see him shedding tears, but it proved to me the love he has for Kylian Mbappe. He wanted his role model to have the cup but it did not happen. However, he told me that Kylian Mbappe performed well by scoring three goals during the match which was not a surprise because he knew that his role model is a goal scoring machine like him. I have hope and trust that my nephew will become the future Kylian Mbappe because every dream comes true as long as a person puts effort into achieving that dream. After the disappointing game, I realized that my nephew started going to football training two times a day, though he is only required to go once. Perhaps watching his hero lose has inspired him to try twice as hard.

27 January, 2023