Al Jazeera Close Up

The Women of Football: Black Pearls of Brazil | Close Up

A group of women from the Brazilian favelas turn their lives around by training in The Black Pearls football club.

“Rio De Janeiro … favelas, violence … I come from the City of God where reality has turned me into a warrior,” says Samantha Reiss, a left-back player in the Black Pearls football team.

The 27-year-old is 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 by her teammates as Reis, is one of the 28 girls who have been given a shot at a better life. The Black Pearls football academy, where she and her teammates play, is not only a training centre 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 attempt to make it into the national football championship. Will these young women from the favelas change their lives around?


A film by Alexander Lali Houghton

Additional Camera: Leandro Mantovani

Local Producers: Jeff Dias Mesquita

Editors: Mariana Penedo

Colourist: Kariny Delahaye

Producers: Antonia Perrello & Tierney Bonini

EP: Tierney Bonini