“Rio De Janeiro…favelas, violence…I come from the City of God where reality has turned me into a warrior,” said Samantha Reiss, a left-back player on the Black Pearls football team.
The 27-year-old hails from the City of God, one of the most dangerous parts of Brazil, a battleground between gangs and the police. “I had every reason to go the wrong way,” she says, “but I didn’t want to, because I knew the path was the way of football.”
Samantha, known to her teammates as Reis, is one of 28 girls given a chance at a better life. The Black Pearls football academy, where she and her teammates play, is not only a training center, but it is also a home and school for at-risk youth.
We kick off this episode of Close Up with the young player as she and her teammates try to make it to the national football championship. Will these young women from the favelas change their lives?
A movie by Alexander Lali Houghton
Additional camera: Leandro Mantovani
Local Producers: Jeff Dias Mesquita
Editor: Mariana Penedo
Colorist: Kariny Delahaye
Producers: Antonia Perrello & Tierney Bonini
EP: Tierney Bonini