EXCLUSIVE: Imagine trying to coach 109 young offenders with just two footballs? In a prison? In Madagascar? And you don’t speak the local lingo.
Or turning up to train with your top league club and you have to get changed in public next to where you train because the club doesn’t have changing rooms or prehab facilities.
Or worst of all, trying to cope with a sudden family tragedy?
These are just some of the challenges Argentine playmaker, budding documentary maker and former Johnny Warren Medal winner with Adelaide United Marcos Flores has endured during a rollercoaster few years since we last saw him in the A-League.
Now back in Argentina with his family and Russian girlfriend, the 33-year-old ex-Reds, Melbourne Victory, Mariners, and Jets star says he is in a “transition” period.
He is training on his own and keeping his options open after a successful stint with Bali United in 2017 - though Australia is always in his heart.
Marcos, sum up your 2018…
I’m okay, Aido.
I’m in a transitional stage in my life after a tough period in the latter stages of my professional career.
I was 32 years of age when I came back home to Argentina.
Unfortunately, while everything at Bali United in 2017 was good on the pitch with nine goals and 10 assists and they asked me to re-sign, then I came back home on holidays and my father passed away.
He passed away with a heart attack.
That was a really really big punch in my life.
My dad was a true friend of mine and was the most loyal supporter of me in my life. And obviously, I needed to decline a few club options that I had in Indonesia and India around this time.
I decided that my obligations to my family were bigger than my football career.
So 2018 was full of recovery for me emotionally and on the fitness side. I couldn't join any team during this time. I trained by myself but it's not the same as training with your club.
I flew to Russia and I joined a team over there in the 4th division. They kindly accepted me to train and play in a little tournament.
And then I flew to Africa.
Yes, I want to help kids around the world so I went to Africa. Teaching them and training them. Playing in the street with them. I wanted to feel the deepness of Africa.
I did this because I wanted to grow up as a person. And I wanted to impart my football methods because I would love to one day teach.
I wanted to see and I wanted to learn how these African kids have this passion and love for the game while having nothing.
Their fields are 10 times worse than Australia. And they have much less than any single Academy in Australia.
But they love the game and they love to smile as they play the game.
I went to Greece and Russia plus Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, and South Africa. This was not supported by any sponsors or any football associations, I didn't ask anyone.
I just packed my things put the soccer ball in my bag and tried to achieve the dreams that I had when I was a young kid growing up in Argentina.
I went to underprivileged areas and the slums of Africa such as Soweto, and the message that I wanted to pass on is the dreams can come true.
You don't need much you only need the desire and love for the game and belief that it is possible.
Obviously, these kids don't have the facilities or in some cases not even a ball, but mate, they play with a smile! It's inspiring.
The footage that we shot is now being edited and I will try to put this into some form of documentary.
We have some great stories… we ended up in a jail in Madagascar called Antanimora in Antananarivo, training and coaching 109 kids who were inmates with only two footballs. Two footballs! In one futsal field inside a prison.