September 29, 2022

Drika led Group Brazil to the 2014 Road Little one United World Cup glory in 2014.

She comes from Serra Caída, a small village in Sergipe situated within the north of Brazil. Rising up together with her grandparents in a small home, she didn’t have some huge cash, luxurious or basic items, together with a range, lights, television or many toys.

Right here, she tells her story of how soccer impressed her and took her to a future she had by no means imagined.

I began taking part in soccer with my aunts and cousins after I was seven. That’s the one factor I may do.

I simply awakened and performed soccer… to have enjoyable. I didn’t have anything to do in life.

After the demise of my grandmother, I moved to Rio after I was 13. I went to reside with my mom and stepfather. We didn’t have that mother-daughter bond as a result of I used to be not raised by her and I didn’t keep in mind the final time we met.

Within the village, life was troublesome however I used to be comfortable. I used to be free. I may exit and play with my pals on the streets. However issues modified after I moved to Rio. It was very totally different. I didn’t have my freedom, there have been individuals with massive weapons and I noticed numerous violence.

In Rio, soccer once more was the one factor that made me really feel at house. After I was taking part in, I didn’t take into consideration the violence I noticed. I simply needed to play soccer. Every little thing else may simply go on round it.

After I moved in with my mom, I used to be a teen and I attempted to adapt. We bought alongside, however I had some fights with my stepfather.

Drika, a former street child footballer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Drika coaching a gaggle of girls from the neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

At one level, he kicked me out of the home as a result of I refused to offer cash that I earned as a stipend from a authorities apprentice programme. I moved in with the man I used to be courting however we broke up after eight months and I needed to transfer out. I used to be in a troublesome scenario and had to consider the place to go. That’s how I made a decision to contact my aunt and went to reside together with her.

Different individuals’s homes are by no means like your personal, you might be all the time attempting to adapt. You possibly can’t communicate your thoughts, or you must watch for others to eat first, for instance.

The entire time you retain pondering: “for those who do one thing incorrect, they’ll kick you out”.

After I was 16, I used to be taking part in soccer with pals when a Dutch man approached and requested if I needed to play for his workforce.

My pals and I might go anyplace soccer was. That’s when issues began to vary. He was the founding father of Favela Road Women and he stated that they’d compete in a World Cup.

As issues moved on, I ended up turning into captain of the workforce and after the Road Little one World Cup 2014, I turned a coach.

A dream come true

I by no means anticipated I might be representing my nation at a world cup as a result of I got here from a small village. It was like a dream come true as a result of I needed to be a footballer representing Brazil.

It wasn’t the official workforce however I believed it’s okay, I used to be taking part in soccer and that was my second. On the world cup, it was wonderful to fulfill individuals from comparable backgrounds. No person spoke English however we used indicators and hand actions to speak. I made new pals, it was simply wonderful.

From then onwards, I began pondering that I can do way more than what I used to be doing then.

Drika, a former street child footballer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Drika labels soccer because the platform that helped her form her future the way in which she needed [Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

I see the game as one thing life-changing for them [the street children taking up football] as a result of it modified my life. Earlier than being a part of the road baby world cup I believed I might be like an abnormal lady locally — having a baby after I was 15 or 16 years, getting married and staying there, which isn’t unhealthy.

After the world cup, I met individuals from totally different locations and that opened my thoughts and I believed that if I bought there, I may do much more. The world was so massive why would I keep simply locally?

I did an internship in america, the place I went to Excessive Faculty for 2 months and realized English. Then I went to England to check English. I’m finding out bodily training and wish to have my very own fitness center, my very own enterprise sooner or later. I additionally need to maintain working with the youngsters as a result of they’re household to me.

I realised that maybe I used to be a powerful lady and although I didn’t have cash, I may do what I needed to if I labored for it. Soccer and the world cup gave me an id and altered my life.

Soccer was the platform that helped me attain that, to flee from the longer term I used to be pondering and anticipating as a baby rising up in that neighborhood.

As informed to Luana Ferreira and Faras Ghani.

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