A boy from Banda Aceh, Indonesia received a special scholarship from football star Cristiano Ronaldo in addition to the funds for repair and reconstruction of houses. The boy named Martunis was separated from his family at the age of 8 when the tsunami struck the beaches of Banda Aceh in 2004. He was playing football when the incident occurred. He drank puddle water and ate uncooked noodles in order to survive the disaster.
Over 170,000 people were killed by the 30-meter high tsunami waves including the child’s mother and sister. Rescuers who arrived at the scene found Martunis wearing the Portugal national kit. At that time, he was extremely dehydrated that he needed saline drip and nutrition.
Portuguese Football Association and FIFA sensation Cristiano Ronaldo himself who helped in funding the child’s education and housing renovation. Martunis then signed for Sporting Lisbon 11 years after he survived the three-week disaster.
In addition to his football lessons, learning English as a second language he took in his home country has been instrumental to this cause. Sporting CP President Bruno de Carvalho expressed his intent to help develop Martunis as a man and potential football star.
The club also nurtured renowned football stars such as Luis Figo and Ricardo Quaresma. Cristiano Ronaldo also donned the famous club before taking in the strides of the English and Spanish football teams, Manchester United and Real Madrid respectively.
Ronaldo shares a similar humble story that softened his heart and saw a potential in a child who showed “an act of strength and maturity” in Martunis. Ronaldo came from a working-class neighborhood and also had to endure the same challenges before he entered his stardom into the famous world of sports.
Indeed, Martunis is an epitome of resilience and hard work to reach big dreams despite being bogged down by death-defying circumstances. The football sport has catered to the many beautiful stories of resilience; from the busy streets of Brazil’s Fabella to the night pitch under the brightly shining floodlights of the Champions League. It has inspired a lot of people and children across the globe to continue living the dream even without the assurance of making it to the top.
Martunis also serves as an inspiration for staying humble despite his rising star status. He has not stopped dreaming to become a renowned football player and he remains grounded on the training pitch until he reaches the very first stage of his growing career.
Under the tutelage of the club that created the famous galacticos of the Common Era, Martunis was the Indonesian child who followed his dream and he’s now on the road to become one of the greatest football players in the world.