“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