It’s impressive how much sports figures influence the behavior of their young fans. Some kids will buy only Nike because Tiger Woods wears Nike. Therefore, their logic concludes, Nike merchandise is essential to score that hole-in-one. Others will drink Pepsi products because David Beckham drinks Pepsi on TV. Even the strange hairdos that kids wear nowadays are footprints (or “hair”-prints) of what kids are willing to do to be like their favorite all-star.
But while these physical traits may determine their wardrobe or their beverage, the type of morality that these top-sport figures live determines what they set their hearts on. That’s where the Brazilian Kaká comes off the bench and into the spotlight.
Kaká, the star midfielder for A.C. Milan, is at the peak of his soccer career. Last year he led his team on to win the Champions League and personally won the Golden Ball and the FIFA World Player awards. But besides these achievements, Kaká considers that there are other things that are important in life: his values. In particular, Kaká has shown publicly and in many different occasions his beliefs and values with respect to marriage.
Kaká brought this up in an interview with the Spanish radio program “Onda Cero” a few weeks ago. Commenting on how his life had changed recently, not only because of the 5-year contract that he just renewed with Milan, but because of his recent marriage, the interviewer went on to mention: “Surely, these years have been tough with your family there in Brazil and you here in Italy.”
“They’ve been very important moments in our lives,” responded the Brazilian soccer star, “but we’ve felt like it was something that we had to do. I wanted to get married to Caroline. It’s been a great sacrifice, but it’s all been worth it.” He went on to add, “The most important thing for me is my values. Money is what comes afterwards as a simple consequence.”
Sounds like a big surprise for a multimillionaire superstar, but when the interviewer went on to mention the great difficulties that this implied, Kaká responded, “I’m faithful to my principles. For me, they’re the most important things in my life. To arrive at my marriage [a] virgin has been a sacrifice, but one that’s been worth it…I’ve had many opportunities, many temptations; but I’ve always followed my ideals and my confidence in God. To be faithful has been the most important, the biggest thing.”
This isn’t the first time that Kaká has mentioned openly his confidence in God. When he received the Golden Ball award in December of last year, he became the youngest player ever to receive such an award. Not surprisingly, the first person he dedicated the award to was God: “I dedicate it to God, because He’s been the one who’s given it to me and who has allowed me to be happy playing soccer. Without him, I would never have received it.”
In June a few months earlier, in an interview for Vanity Fair Magazine, the Brazilian star spoke again about chastity and abstinence.
“It wasn’t easy to arrive to my marriage without ever having been with a woman… [But] my wife and I chose to arrive chaste to our wedding. The Bible teaches that you can only get to true love with marriage.”
But going back to the kids following their sport models, Kaká also had his.
“My soccer idol was Raí. Ever since I played with São Paulo I focused on him. Besides, not only was he a great soccer player, but also he cared about society. When he played in Paris Saint Germain he ran many charity works to improve the poverty situation in Brazil.”
True sports leaders are those who leave a positive mark in their young fans. The example of Kaká shows that you can be a great player while being a great Christian at the same time. In the end, these are the ones who really win.
Information taken from an interview in the Spanish newspaper La Razón 25/03/2008 and from ForumLibertas.com 3/12/2007 and 26/03/2008
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