Victor, 23, was a soccer player who was offered an amazing position to coach a soccer team at a private school. Everyone loved his on-field tactics and coaching style.
But at the height of his success, Victor faced a painful blow that brought down his career. Just weeks before a critical game, he became ill and was unable to coach his team.
The school lost the tournament and the chance to win the trophy, and everyone blamed Victor for the failure. The degrading comments he heard daily lowered his self-esteem.
Depressed and heartbroken, Victor vowed never to return to the field. He gave up his dream career and took a job as a janitor at a local park.
For the next two years, Victor struggled to adjust to his new life. He never revealed his identity to anyone and did his best not to return to sports.
None of those who frequented the park knew who Victor had been. To them, he was just a janitor who worked hard for a living.
One afternoon, Victor was making rounds in the park after throwing out the garbage when an unfamiliar woman greeted him. She seemed to want something from him.
“Excuse me, can you watch my daughter? I need to use the restroom urgently,” she said.
Victor saw a little girl fast asleep in a stroller.
“Sure, I’ll wait here with your daughter,” the janitor replied.
Victor kept an eye on the child, anxiously looking around for the mother. Minutes passed, and half an hour later, the woman did not return.
The little girl began to cry and not knowing what to do, Victor tried to comfort her. It was then that an envelope in the little girl’s stroller caught his attention. Inside he found a note, the contents of which sent shivers down his spine.
“Dear Victor, I hope you are well. I’m Maria, do you remember me?”
“We met at the party three years ago. I left you a gift: Hannah is a living memory of our one-night stand. I can’t take care of her, so it’s your responsibility from now on.”
The hazy memories of that night flooded his mind. He had traveled to a neighboring city three years earlier for a soccer tournament. One night, he looked into the eyes of a beautiful woman named Maria, and they instantly connected.
He now knew that his one-night stand resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. Reality was Victor’s shock when he realized that little Hannah was his daughter.
He took her home and immediately called his friend, a policeman, to find out if there were any reports of a missing girl.
“No, Victor. We haven’t received any reports in the last few days, why, is everything all right?”.
“Yes, everything is fine. I was just checking. Thanks, buddy!”.
“Are you coming hiking with us this weekend?” the policeman asked.
At that moment, Victor began to notice the way his life would change. He could not leave Hannah alone. He had to decline the first of many invitations.
“I don’t think I can go, something’s come up. I’ll let you know anything.”
“How am I going to raise my daughter alone? Why did Mary do this?” he wondered as tears streamed relentlessly into his eyes.
He decided not to give Hannah to a foster home and began working hard to raise her. Victor knew it would be a big challenge, but he was committed to doing it.
However, he kept wondering what would have happened in Maria’s life to make her suddenly abandon the baby. Time passed too quickly as he devoted himself body and soul to raising little Hannah.
The girl showed an ability for sports from the time she started walking, so Victor put aside his reluctance to sports. He began playing with her in the park and soon gathered a group of children whom he coached every afternoon.
One day, the manager of a soccer team who was strolling through the park witnessed one of these games. He was impressed by Victor’s knowledge and wanted to make him an offer. The proposal was very tempting, and he soon became the assistant coach.
His strategies and technical skills catapulted his team to win all their games. A year later, Victor was promoted as head coach, and for the first time in eleven years, they took home the trophy.
By this time, Hannah had turned nine, and the father-daughter relationship was wonderful. They played together in the afternoons, painted pictures, and loved to go on thrilling rides at amusement parks.
They were living the best days of their lives, and felt that their joy would last forever. But one day, Victor’s heart was shaken when he saw Maria at the sports club where he worked.
“Why did you come, are you planning to take Hannah? I won’t let that happen,” he mused, as he walked over to where the woman was.
“How are you, Victor, how’s our daughter?”
“Our daughter? She’s my daughter, why did you come?” asked Victor, not disguising his annoyance. Maria sighed before answering.
“Victor, what happened between us that night was a nice encounter, but I got pregnant. Things were not easy for me. My parents kicked me out and for two years I tried to raise the child without help.”
“Then I met David. But he was not willing to accept my daughter. So I decided to leave her with you. I tracked you down and found out that you had quit your job and are a janitor at the park, and so I left her with you that afternoon.”
“How could you do that to her? She’s not an object. She’s a sensitive little girl you left with a complete stranger. For months she cried for you. Why did you come here now?”
And then he heard Maria’s absurd proposal:
“David and I broke up recently. I have no one and I want my daughter back. I want to have her with me.”
Furious and worried, Victor flatly refused and asked her to leave:
“I won’t let that happen. She is my daughter and she will not go with you. You’d better leave.”
Maria left very upset. A few days later, a court notice arrived at Victor’s address, summoning him to take Hannah to court.
At the hearing two weeks later…
“Your Honor, I can’t trust this woman with my daughter. She abandoned her with a stranger when she was very young. What is the guarantee that she won’t do it again?” argued Victor.
Maria jumped to his defense and said:
“Your Honor, I had no other choice and no means to support my daughter. I wanted to move on, so I had to leave her with her biological father.”
After hearing both sides, the judge declared Victor as Hannah’s legal guardian and added:
“Children deserve love and support throughout their lives. They are not objects to be abandoned. If you needed help, you should have gone to her father and explained the situation, asked for support. Don’t just leave her there, to her fate.”