Soccer offers Brazil's kids a long-shot at stardom

Soccer offers Brazil's kids a long-shot at stardom

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Youth development has become an issue in Brazil since the country's national team was beat by Germany in the World Cup semi-final. (Source: CNN) Youth development has become an issue in Brazil since the country's national team was beat by Germany in the World Cup semi-final. (Source: CNN)
Andrezino has been touted as a major young soccer talent, but he hasn't been signed to one of the major clubs yet. (Source: CNN) Andrezino has been touted as a major young soccer talent, but he hasn't been signed to one of the major clubs yet. (Source: CNN)
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(CNN) – Brazil’s epic semi-final hammering by Germany has left the country shell shocked and questions are being asked about the future of the national team. To what extend does the whole system need a root and branch review? Are the still producing world-class players, and if so, are they finding their way to the top?

They are playing in small tournaments with the hope of making it big. This is a social football project in Rio, called the Social Cup, where teams from poor areas face off against each other.

The team of Andre Rodriques de Principe, who calls himself Andrezinho, is in the final.

“My dream is to become a soccer pro,” Andrezinho said. “Ever since I was a kid I told my father that I wanted to play ball, now I have to go and achieve that dream.”

Andrezinho has been billed as a major young talent. He even appeared in the video for the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

But his career is stalling. Andrezinho hasn’t been signed by one of the major clubs yet and has to play on a team in his local slum.

“They say I won't play at a club level because I don't have an agent,” Andrezinho said. “I don’t have an agent and I play well, but there are other boys who don't play well but they have an agent and they always make it.”

Youth talent development has become an issue in Brazil since the country’s national team was routed by Germany in the World Cup semi-final. That has led some to ask whether Brazil is still a major talent producer.

Almost all of the kids playing in the Social Cup have dreams and aspirations to become professional footballers. But only very few of them will make it in the end. Many complain, saying the road to the pros is tough and often unfair.

According to Universidade de Futebol, a group that promotes the sport in Brazil, for every child who reaches the pro level, around 6000 fail.

A talent scout at the Social Cup says it is important to focus on behavior off the field, as much as a child’s soccer skills.

"To make the parents understand that they shouldn't look at this is a ticket to get my family out of here,” FYD Strategies and Consulting Scout, Marcos Reis said. “This is an opportunity for the kid to realize the dream that he might have and if it doesn't mean that he’s going to make his financial freedom at least you accomplish something. He can take that to other things in life."

For Andrezinho, the odds are getting slimmer by the day. While other players from his neighborhood have already signed with bigger clubs, he’s still waiting for his chance, but he vows he will fight to fulfill a dream of becoming a professional player.

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