Joy Drop: Reflecting on 2022, Pele's death

Shireen Ahmed shares a photo from her wedding earlier this year. (Karimah Gheddai - image credit)
Shireen Ahmed shares a photo from her wedding earlier this year. (Karimah Gheddai - image credit)

It's hard to believe that we're at the end of 2022. It's been a year of great happiness, deep sorrows, and a lot of in-betweens. I would be remiss if I didn't begin this lovely online notebook by thanking YOU! Yes, dear reader, you have been sharing JOY with me for almost a year. And curating Joy Drop has been instructive and incredibly meaningful for me. It has also helped me navigate some very difficult times. When I didn't think I would have the words or the ability to write, we went forth with hope. Earlier this fall, I wrote that I believe that hope is a cousin of joy. That belief is a form of strength. So, I thank you for reading and making me feel more certain in times of doubt.

I couldn't do it without every person at CBC Sports who have encouraged and inspired me to be better and stronger in what I do and to work hard to make the team proud. I have been so lifted and supported on a professional and personal basis and that means so much in a chaotic industry. There have been solid friendships percolating and many, many laughs. I can't wait for the next chapter.

When I think of joy, I can't help but think of Brazilian legend Pelé (born Edson Arantes do Nascimento). The soccer legend known as O Rei (King in Portuguese) died at age 82 in Brazil.. He was a beautiful player, dazzling on the pitch with his magnificent presence and phenomenal tricks and intuition. He exuded joy and the love of a game that enveloped the world. Many of the beautiful shots and particular moves we see today, Pelé did them first. Whether it was a bicycle kick, deking out defenders, a roulette or sublime passing, he completed them all. And often while being mercilessly fouled. He was such a force on the pitch, an ambassador of the beautiful game and a dear friend to many.

His daughter, Kely Nascimento confirmed his death on Instagram with a heartwrenching post.

One of the reasons I fell in love with soccer is because of Pelé. My father adored him and talked of him often. He spoke of his majesty and I noticed the way he moved with the ball as if they were one. And of course, I noticed his dazzling grin. Football brought him so much happiness and he shared that with the world and even the best players of the game. His impact on the sport can not be overstated. I feel fortunate to have seen him play in my lifetime.

Two years ago when fellow superstar Diego Maradonna died, Pelé said in a beautiful statement, "I hope we can play football in the sky". It brings me heavy-hearted happiness to think they are.

Rest in Power, O Rei!

This past year has been one of the most meaningful of my life. I started at CBC Sports, doing the work I love with a team I adore … and  I got married! When we speak of delight, there is nothing that brings me more excitement and sheer joy than looking at photos of my wedding to my husband, Mark.

Our photographer was Karimah Gheddai, an incredibly gifted creative, who captured every tiny moment with brilliant care and dedication. Her work is stunning and I am so grateful she was there. Her energy and professionalism were on point. She was absolutely focused on the moment and we trusted her implicitly. Karimah captured moments of joy whether they manifested through my happy tears or through a hearty laugh or the tiniest detail — she got it all. I got the complete album recently while I was in Qatar and still have to process all the beautiful photos and relive the best day of our lives. I hope they bring you some smiles!

I end this year grateful for my blessings, hopeful for what is to come and looking forward to recharging and resetting for 2023.  May 2023 be full of health, joy and justice!