Nico Calabria is one of the five amateur football players featured in Powerade’s 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign. Playing for the U.S National football team and climbing mount Kilimanjaro aren’t the things you would naturally expect to find in the resume of a 19 year old. Born with just one leg, Nico Calabria has never allowed his disability to keep him on the sidelines. “It was hard sometimes, but my family always had a ‘no excuse, tough love mentality’ when it came to overcoming challenges,” he says.
For a long time, athletes saw emotional vulnerability as something to be frowned upon, as their image had to be of someone strong and fearless. Today, all of that is changing as people are starting to value personal struggles of athletes, and ad agency Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam offers the audiences just that: the heartwarming story of Nico Calabria as he grows from a toddler to a child and then a teen, when his talent for football shines through.
Nico Calabria began playing with a ball as a toddler, despite wearing a prosthetic. At age five, Nico stopped wearing his prosthetic leg and began using forearm clutches. Using them, he became fast enough to play in a team with players with two legs.
“People usually think I was trying to make a statement by playing soccer with able-bodied people and not giving up, but really…” he says, “I just love playing soccer.” “I look at disabilities as ‘differences in ability’,” he explains. “There’s an important distinction. The definition of ‘disabled’ is basically a long list of synonyms that don’t describe me… like ‘crippled’ and ‘weak’.”
The story of Nico Calabria inspires many, as he shows us not to be afraid of following our dreams and that anything is possible, if we truly want it.
“Nico is a beautiful illustration not only of overcoming something that others would perceive as a serious challenge, but also of redefining our outlook on challenges. Having one leg was his reality, so he chose to view it as an asset rather than a hindrance .For Nico, his difference in ability was not just an obstacle; it was an opportunity to inspire others with what a person is able to achieve. That’s what we loved about him.”says Andra London, Powerade’s global communication manager.
Watch the beautiful spot featuring the story of Nico Calabria here and tell us what you think!
References: coca-colacompany.com, adweek.com
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