Khalil Melliti: I see my future in football - My Tunisia

Khalil Melliti has always known his future would lead him into the heart of Tunisia's love of football.

"I've been mad about football since I was little. Right now I play for the best team in Tunisia, Esperance."

At 16 years old, Melliti's passion for and commitment to the sport was so evident, his family did not hesitate to uproot the family home to make his life a little easier.

"It was tough to abandon our own house but there is nothing more important than my children," says Melliti's mum Aida. "Not cars or houses or money. First my children must grow and find their place, then everything will come naturally."

In late 2010, people took to the streets of Tunis to protest poor living conditions and an increasingly clear culture of corruption. What is now referred to as the Tunisian revolution ended in the ousting of long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and is credited to have triggered the Arab Spring. The Tunisian peoples' love of football only grew post-revolution as they yearned for less political and more cultural activities to engage in.

"After the revolution, when you look at the situation in the country with economic and social problems everywhere, the only way we escape and express ourselves is through sports, and for me, it's football.

Life as a promising football professional requires a lot of sacrifice from the young star himself, with a necessary focus on both training and maintaining schoolwork.

"I don't really like studying and that's a bad thing. We study from morning to evening and we can't find time for other things," says Melliti.

Regardless, Melliti soldiers on in his quest for football greatness with full determination and the support of his family, friends and his country.

"Anybody playing football wants to win," he says. "Nobody wants to lose. We are still young and are
learning from winning and losing but that's me. Since an early age, I can't stand losing. Always victory.

"My Tunisia is football. My Tunisia is school. It's my friends and family."
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