A Different Kind of Star

Soccer sensation Kak shows a different set of values.
by Fr. Ernest Daly, LC | Source: OurFatihInAction.com

A Different Kind of Star

He is the number one soccer player on the globe. He has had thousands of adoring fans since he was a teenager. Now his fans number in the millions. But soccer sensation Kaká continues to surprise the world with a different set of values: values of faith, family, and character.
 
Champion 

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos, better known as Kaka’, was born in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil on April 22, 1982. He was recently signed for Real Madrid of Spain, after playing successfully for AC Milan in Italy. Even though he is only 26 years old, he has already won every award he dreamed of as a boy. 

His accomplishments include leading his junior and senior teams to win Brazil’s soccer championship, being a member of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup Champion team, leading his Italian team to both national and international championships in 2004 and 2007, and being awarded the FIFA World Player of the Year for 2007. 

For the Team 

Even though Kaka’ scores many brilliant goals himself, those who really know soccer are most impressed by his unselfish play. He actually prefers playing in a support role (at midfield) rather than in the lead scoring position. He drives opponent teams crazy with his ability to do everything well: stealing the ball, dribbling, creating plays for others (passing and assists), and hitting deadly shots on goal under pressure. His quick smile shows he considers it a privilege to play sports for a living. 

More than a flashy smile 

But Kaka’ is not the typical superstar. He does not flaunt his success and good looks. In fact, he continues to surprise the world by a different set of values, values that he learned in his family and through his faith. 

He comes from a close and loving family. His nickname was given to him by his younger brother when they were children. Kaka’ continues to be proud of his little brother. In fact he used his first paycheck as a professional player to help pay for his brother’s education. His dream is that one day his brother can play beside him. 

Finding Faith Young
 
Kaka’ s family is deeply Christian. They are evangelical Christians. Kaka’ claims his faith is what really makes him happy. He was baptized when he was 12 years old (normal in his evangelical church), and says that moment in particular helped him in his relationship with Christ. 

“When I was baptized in 1994, something supernatural happened to me. I cannot explain it, but after that experience I got closer to God, more in tune with Him. At that moment I was really born spiritually. I began to know God more in depth, and I've learned that faith works within the limits of circumstances. I began having a Father to son relationship with God.” 

Catholics Can Do It Too
 
As Catholics, our baptism, our first communion, our confirmation, our personal prayer time, our participation in Sunday Mass, and the many times we receive the sacrament of the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) all help us live this type of relationship with God and deepen it as we grow. 

Like Kaka’, we should all have moments when our relationship with Christ grows, just as our heart and our intelligence grow as we mature. 

Discovered 

Like most Brazilian boys, Ricardo had been playing soccer since he could walk. He was discovered at a very young age. He was eight years old when he was invited to be part of the boys’ teams of Sao Paulo FC, one of the country’s most prestigious soccer clubs. He turned semi-professional when he was 15, not unusual for a soccer star in Brazil, and eventually led his youth team to the national championship. He made his debut in Brazil’s top professional league when he was 18. 

Tragedy Stalks 

But tragedy almost seemed to end his career when he was 18. He was at a water park while visiting his grandparents and fell from a water-slide. He broke a vertebra (a disc in his back) as he hit the bottom of the pool. Doctors said the fracture should have paralyzed him permanently. They said he was lucky even to walk. Remarkably, after a year, he made a full recovery, and came back to lead his team to the championship. 

Kaka’ and his family have always seen his recovery as a sign of God’s mercy. “They (the doctors) were talking about luck and my family was talking about God. Back at home we always thanked God because we knew that it was His hand that had saved and protected me.” 

This is one of the reasons Ricardo always raises his hand to the sky after he scores a goal. He knows that without God’s help, he would not be where he is. He recognizes that his success is a gift from God, a gift he can acknowledge or a gift he can misuse. 

The Soccer Star and Courtship 

Another area where Kaka’ shows his faith is by his Christian commitment to chastity. He believes deeply in what the Bible teaches about the true meaning of marriage. 

Ever since he was a boy, Ricardo had always felt the beauty and attraction of marriage, and often prayed that God would lead him to the right girl. When he was 19, and already a professional soccer player, his dad introduced him to Caroline. Caroline was the daughter of a friend of his father. She was also a committed Christian. And she was very pretty. 

But deeper than her beauty, Kaka’ saw something special in Caroline, something that brought out the best in him. Caroline became his best friend. They would talk often, and they would spend a lot of time with each other’s families. But there was something else they shared: a Christian commitment to chastity. 

Their courtship lasted four years, and had to endure two years of separation, because Kaka’ went to play in Italy after their first two years together. 

During those last two years, 2003-2005, they set rules about how they would stay faithful to each other. Kaka’ says he and Caroline considered this time as very important: “It allowed our love to mature and be tested.” 


Italian Surprise 

Even though Kaka’ was already a star in Brazil, it was expected that he would only play a minor role his first year in Italy. Kaka’ was hired for a team that already had several international superstars, including fellow Brazilian, Rivaldo, who had been the top scorer in the 2002 World Cup. 

But something happened when Kaka’ hit the field in Italy in 2003. His magical passes and brilliant shots could ignite the team to victory. Much to his surprise, within a few months he became the acknowledged leader on the field, and Rivaldo, unselfishly, became his proud advisor. That year AC Milan won the Italian league and the European Super Cup. 

Worth the Wait 

After two years of separation, Caroline and Kaka’ were married. Their wedding was on December 23, 2005. In May of this year Caroline gave birth to their first child. 

Talking about their commitment to chastity before marriage, Kaka’ comments, “The Bible teaches that true love waits until marriage. If our life today is so beautiful, I think it is because we waited.” 

Others on the Radar 

Another value that is important to Kaka’ is helping others. He often does promotion for charitable causes, even at great sacrifice of his time. 

Among the many causes he supports, one is the fight against world hunger. In 2004, at age 22, he became the youngest Ambassador Against Hunger at the United Nations. He travels to Africa and other poor parts of the world, including the poorest regions of his own country, Brazil, in order to promote awareness of world hunger. He appears in television and other media advertisements asking for donations to help alleviate world hunger. 

Not Afraid 

As a Christian, another area that is important for Kaka’ is sharing his faith. He tries to give an example of sportsmanship on the field because he knows that others will be convinced by the way he lives, more than by what he says. 

Yet he is not afraid to talk openly about his faith, and has encouraged other players to do so as well. In fact, when he retires from soccer he hopes to become a lay missionary in his evangelical church. 

When Love Touches the Wallet 

Kaka’ is also generous with his money. He donates 10% of his salary to his church, and helps other causes as well. In the Bible, giving 10% of your earnings to God is called tithing. 

Being generous with our money helps us realize that we are stewards of God gifts, not absolute owners of them, and that we have a responsibility for others as well. Tithing helps us live the virtue of thankfulness to God, and makes us less selfish. 

Real Champions 

What is in the future for Kaka’? As he will tell you, only God knows. But there is no doubt that his example is having a positive impact on the world. He is helping people think about deeper values and especially about their relationship with God. 

Kaka’ shows us that love, faith, chastity, and generosity lead to a happiness and fulfillment that last beyond the thrill of the moment. Whether we are world soccer champions or simply the person next door, we can all be champions of faith, hope, and love. In the end it is these values that are the real championship. 

(Fr. Ernest Daly, LC is director/editor of Our Faith In Action. He holds a Masters in philosophy from the Gregorian University and a Masters in theology from Regina Apostolorum University. He has worked extensively in youth and adult ministry, education, and vocation direction.)


On the Net:
OurFatihInAction.com 



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Published by: marymacha
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
God is great.i was so delighted to read about the life of this young prosperous player.Im overwelmend by his faith, and his life style because most players and most specifically professional players end up living extremely luxurious lives putting their monies and wealth as 1st things in place of GOD.You will hear ,read and watch nasty things of these players and at times you only pray that God will somehow enable them to change.But at many times they dont change untill they fall in disgrace.Ithank God that today im reading a story which is a blessing to me.KAKAmay God keep bless you and your family always.Please dont change and please ensure you get 1,2,even 3 players who imitates you .that way you will be spreading the word of GOD using the BALL.Again stay blessed.A message from Tanzania East africa.

Published by: marymacha
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
God is great.i was so delighted to read about the life of this young prosperous player.Im overwelmend by his faith, and his life style because most players and most specifically professional players end up living extremely luxurious lives putting their monies and wealth as 1st things in place of GOD.You will hear ,read and watch nasty things of these players and at times you only pray that God will somehow enable them to change.But at many times they dont change untill they fall in disgrace.Ithank God that today im reading a story which is a blessing to me.KAKAmay God keep bless you and your family always.Please dont change and please ensure you get 1,2,even 3 players who imitates you .that way you will be spreading the word of GOD using the BALL.Again stay blessed.A message from Tanzania East africa.

Published by: marymacha
Date: 2009-01-01 10:00:00
God is great.i was so delighted to read about the life of this young prosperous player.Im overwelmend by his faith, and his life style because most players and most specifically professional players end up living extremely luxurious lives putting their monies and wealth as 1st things in place of GOD.You will hear ,read and watch nasty things of these players and at times you only pray that God will somehow enable them to change.But at many times they dont change untill they fall in disgrace.Ithank God that today im reading a story which is a blessing to me.KAKAmay God keep bless you and your family always.Please dont change and please ensure you get 1,2,even 3 players who imitates you .that way you will be spreading the word of GOD using the BALL.Again stay blessed.A message from Tanzania East africa.

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