Rise: Ed van Gils

“The ball is my saviour.”

Ed van Gils

For many, football is an escape from the mind-numbing 9 to 5 job and the struggles of trying to maintain a social life, whilst being a parent. However, for Dutch street footballer, Ed van Gils, football gave him an escape of so much more than repetitiveness of every day life.

“Football wasn’t just pleasure, it was an escape from reality.”

Ed van Gils

van Gils’ reality was one that he wanted to escape from as young as seven years old, as a confused and scared boy, with parents who suffered with their addiction to alcohol – a wedge that eventually drove van Gils’ mother to leave the family.

Not many would’ve found the inner strength to use the emotions from a troubled upbringing as a way to fuel their desire to make their dreams come true.

But that’s exactly what the street footballer, who now works with the likes of Nike and FIFA Street, did:

“It was hard, the streets were your family…I just wanted to use the anger and emotion as a motivation (to get back into the game).”

Ed van Gils

van Gils was lucky enough to have a former coach see the drive in him to succeed was worth his time and effort – van Gils’ talent was never in question. And just when the Dutchman had lost hope of making it in his – and many’s – dream profession, he made it.

One final push in his 20s; one of extreme training schedules, sacrifice and dedication saw the now-face and founder of Street Kings Football arrive at the top of his profession.

“I think street football is the most beautiful form of football…it was my perfect world.”

Ed van Gils

Despite being far from representative of his where he grew up and his childhood, Ed van Gils’ achievement of reaching his goal has taught him something that so many of us fail to ever appreciate and accept.

“Finally, after 15 years, I can live quite comfortably. But I found out it’s not about the money and being successful in life. To me, I can use it as a tool to help out kids in the same situation as I was.”

Ed van Gils

SEE ALSO: Robinho’s story from the slums to the stadiums

It’s crazy to think that the boy at seven, who had nothing more than a dream, has shared a football with the likes of Manchester United’s finest Premier League era striker, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and everyone’s favourite trickster, Ronaldinho.

Dreams really do come true, if you want them.

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