Maxim Molokodeov is proof that second chances do exist.
Maxim Molokodeov, a 25 year old Russian national, spent three years in prison in Chile for drug trafficking after being arrested in 2010 at the airport in Santiago, with about 13 pounds of cocaine which he had planned to smuggle into Europe. In Russia Molokodeov played for FK Pskov 747, a second division soccer team, but according to the Associated Press “he has been training with the Santiago Morning club in Chile’s second-tier league since last season under a special permit.” Molokodeov’s prison term ended on Friday, and Justice Minister Juan Ignacio Pina announced that “an order to expel Molokoedov from Chile has been revoked.”
Molokoedov remembers his first days in the prison, sleeping in a cramped cell with four other inmates, missing his family, not speaking or understanding any Spanish. But Molokoedov “put his faith in a wooden rendering of St. Nicholas, known as the Wonderworker in the Russian Orthodox church.” Not long after that, “the miracle” came in the form of pickup soccer games in the prison yard. It was here that inmates began to see and marvel at his “dribbling skills and brutal right-footed shot.” They even began trading him supplies, such as deodorant and bars of soap to entice him to play. It wasn’t long before the former Chilean national coach, Claudio Borghi, heard about “El Ruso” who went to the prison to see him play. Borghi said, “Molokoedov was good enough to go pro.” Word also reached a former professional player named Franklin Lobos. Lobos now volunteers in prisons, and he “vouched” for Molokoedov. With both Lobos and Borghi speaking on his behalf, the warden agreed to let Molokoedov leave the prison grounds, accompanied by a guard, to train with the soccer club.
Molokoedov prefers not to talk about his attempt at drug smuggling, he says he regrets what he did, and simply calls it “a bad memory.” He says that now he is looking forward and is just thankful for being given a second chance at life through soccer. During his final training session while still in custody Molokoedov told reporters, “I’m very happy and I want to thank all the people who helped me push forward and have the chance to triumph in Chile.” At a ceremony conducted for Molokoedov at the National Stadium Judge Pina said, “Maxim has been able to prove that reintegration and rehabilitation are possible.” And Lobos added to that saying, “We’re giving out a very clear message in this country. Second shots really do exist.”
Photo: AP/Alvaro Duran