Rio – Diamond In The Rough
Brazil head coach Alexandre Soares took the chance of including the 20-year-old forward from the district of Cantagalo in the squad he had selected to defend the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title in 2007. “Several months ago, I started hearing about this kid from the favelas who often played on the beach in Copacabana and could dribble past anyone. I decided to check him out and found this diamond in the rough, ready to be polished,” said Soares. And so “Robinho on sand”, as fans and media alike are starting to call him, was born.
Coincidentally, one of the 58 kids having fun in the beach soccer clinic was 11-year-old Taiane de Carvalho, Daniel Souza’s cousin and an eyewitness of what beach soccer has meant to his life. “In a few months, he has travelled abroad, he became more aware of how important sport is to his life and, most of all, he has grown confident. Now he knows that this is a clear opportunity knocking on his door,” she stated.
“It is a privilege – beach soccer has changed my life and it is now up to me to definitely profit from it,” said Daniel Souza minutes after leaving the pitch to a standing ovation from the crowd for his dribbling skills. “No matter what happens from now on, playing in this packed, vibrant stadium is already a dream come true.”
Essentially, it is this same dream that lay behind the wide eyes and beaming smiles on the faces of the 58 children as they left the stadium carrying their farewell gift – a brand new adidas beach soccer ball. Each of them was more determined than ever to get on in life or, at the very least, to have a great time doing what they love the most.