Football is in 14-year-old Dominic Kramberger”s blood. The Swede went to his first match when he was just two weeks old and his Dad used to sing him to sleep with football chants.
He started playing at age five, but in April 2020, Dominic dislocated his leg during a football match.
After the accident, he was soon diagnosed with an aggressive variety of cancer and, alongside tough chemotherapy treatments, doctors decided to amputate the lower part of his right leg.
“My body was completely knocked out,” he says.
But Dominic’s football career didn’t stop there. In April 2021, he received a prosthesis and just a month later went on to represent his country in Gazprom’s social programme for children, Football for Friendship (F4F).
The initiative saw participants – girls and boys between 12-14 years old – take part in an online game, F4F World, developed especially for the event.
Every child that took part had a story to tell, with F4F combining football and educational events for children from all around the globe.
Dominic is still recovering from his illness and is set to finish chemotherapy by the end of September.
He says he felt lucky to be able to participate in such “a fun and inspiring initiative, making friends from all over the world”, but his new friends and the programme’s directive think he is the real MVP (most valuable player).
The daily challenges he faces haven’t stripped him of his motivation: “It’s tough, it is really tough, but I will fix it,” he told Euronews.
The Swede trains for around two hours a day to strengthen his thigh muscles. “My goal is to walk without crutches before the end of the year and come back to my soccer team as a goalkeeper,” he said.
Where does Dominic get his great motivation from?
“Most of the positivity and the never give up attitude comes my family,” he explained, crediting his father, mother and brother. “They’ve always pushed me to do whatever I want, and to never give up on the things that I want to be.”
“I think it is in my brain, I always think I should be the best and never give up. So that’s it.”
Dominic said he hopes to become a professional football player in the future, “but if that’s not possible maybe a journalist or referee.”
The teen was inspired to become a journalist by his new international friends and also after he got the chance to interview football star and F4F ambassador Roberto Carlos.
His question was chosen as part of the initiative from a group of young, budding journalists to be put to the former Brazil player at a press conference.
“It was so nice to speak to him,” says Dominic, “I didn’t think that I would be able to. Then, when he said that I will be able to go to Madrid and watch a football match, I was so happy. I didn’t have any words.”
For the last eight years, Football for Friendship has brought young people from across the world together to share their love for football, and in the process put into practice the initiative’s core values: friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour.