Finding my purpose: Shocking story behind my dream to play in La Liga

Finding my purpose at a young age is the reason I came to play football in Spain.

Living a purpose-driven life didn’t happen overnight and I’ve had lots of help along the way. In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to hear about a challenge I overcame on my journey here.

This is what I wrote for IE University in my application. I hope it inspires you to get going to follow your dream and keep improving.

Tell us a time you faced a challenge or a setback. What did you learn from this experience and how has it affected the way you view future obstacles?

(IE University “Express Yourself”)

I’ve faced many challenges and setbacks in my life so far but the one that was life-defining happened when I was four years old. This single event has shaped the way I respond to all challenges since. I was travelling with my family to watch my brother’s cricket game on a regular Saturday morning. My mother went to pay for parking, leaving me with my brother. But my younger self had other ideas as I always want to be by my mother’s side.

As soon as I started running toward her I felt a massive bang on my body and everything turned dark. I went unconscious and when I awoke, I found myself trapped underneath a large, four-wheel drive. All I can remember from that moment was the agonizing pain and the sound of myself screaming. 

A long recovery and the road to finding my purpose

So began my journey of recovering from a head trauma. That included relearning English as I lost my speech in the accident. I started school later than my peers and I needed to learn how to communicate again. For the early years at school, it was hard to pick up things that others could understand almost immediately.

I will never know whether I would have had more success at school if I hadn’t been hit by a car. However I know for certain that school was tough with a head injury to overcome. This was harder because I was in a high academically-ranking school. My classmates were very smart, diligent and occasionally, cruel. However finding my purpose was a journey, and this was the start of it.

A near death experience brings perspective

When you experience something that affected you for a long time and ultimately nearly led to your death, you end up seeing things from a different perspective. Although I was very young at the time, I started understanding the situation more and more as I grew. And the more I understood it, the more grateful I was to still be alive.

I remember for a couple of years following the accident when we drove past the location where I was hit, I would get very scared. However, this feeling eventually disappeared. I’d learnt early on that your fears need to be confronted and with hard work and patience, can be overcome. Purpose is not hiding in a traumatic event, it is what is revealed later when you look for meaning.

In part, what also helped me to get over that trauma was being connected to God and the belief that God has a plan for me. I firmly believe in this even to now. I keep my faith in him and give him thanks for everything he has given me. While at the same time, I take responsibility for making the best use of the time I have. 

Dreaming of La Liga

Since the accident, I have had to overcome many hurdles from being a young Australian boy with a prior head injury to dreaming of playing football in La Liga. Fast forward to the present day where I am now an official member of the Getafe U19 football team and finishing High School.

The way I view obstacles in my life is that I must be able to come out on the other side and never say “never” to anything. Believing that life is too short and that not giving things a try is a wasted opportunity to grow and learn.

I’ve been supported by my family, my coaches, my school, my friends and God. I don’t believe I can take the credit for my achievements. Of course I know the value of hard work and everyday I try to be a bit better than the day before. In my experience, future will keep popping up unexpectedly and without warning. I’m ready.

Max Sakae Ogawa
Max Sakae Ogawa

Random fact #1
Sakae means brilliant. Flourish, prosperity, honor and glory. Take your pick.
Random fact #2
My site icon is the Japanese character for “Sakae”.

Published by Max Sakae Ogawa

A footballer who wants to make an impact on and off the field

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