Poor Brazilian kids dream of soccer fame - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Poor Brazilian kids dream of soccer fame

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Many kids growing up in the favelas of Brazil hope that soccer will be their ticket out of poverty. (Source: CNN) Many kids growing up in the favelas of Brazil hope that soccer will be their ticket out of poverty. (Source: CNN)
Alex Magellans shows off his most prized possessions, his soccer trophies. (Source: CNN) Alex Magellans shows off his most prized possessions, his soccer trophies. (Source: CNN)
The next generation of Brazilian soccer players practice anywhere they can. (Source: CNN) The next generation of Brazilian soccer players practice anywhere they can. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) – Sao Paulo, Brazil will hold the first match of the 2014 World Cup, but Rio de Janeiro has the honor of staging the championship game.

Many children in Rio are gearing up for the tournament, but few will actually be able to attend any games. Their poverty isn't tempering their excitement however.

Under the watchful eyes of Christ the Redeemer, the next generation of Brazil's football hopefuls are playing their hearts out.

Alex Magellans is only ten years old, but his friends say he's got the moves to make it big someday.

"I love scoring," Alex said. "I dream of being a professional footballer. When I was younger I used to kick everything, bottles, bottle caps and rocks."

Alex's beset friend Diogo plays just as hard, imitating the stars from Brazil's national team, which he hopes will triumph in the World Cup.

"I think Brazil will win the trophy," Diogo said. "And they will lift it for all of the world to see."

Soccer is almost like a religion in Brazil. But for many, it could also be a ticket out of this place and into a better life.

There's been so much criticism about the World Cup in Brazil. But that is mostly about poor organization and high ticket prices. If you want to see how excited people here are about the games, just look at the way they've painted the stairs in Brazil's national colors. Their slogan is "hexa Brazil' for Brazil to win the world cup a sixth time."

The kids show off their homes. Alex lives in a shack with four relatives. There's not much of value in the home, but Alex's football trophies mean the world to him.

"I always wanted a trophy like this," Alex said. "On that day, we finished second, but I scored three goals and got this for being the top scorer."

His aunt says the boy has had that determination since he was born, in spite of the hardships he faces.

"He has a hard time because the family has no money," Alex's aunt said. "He can't be on a team that travels. Sometimes he has to leave his team and then join again later. Soccer shoes are also expensive. Sometimes I chip in and so do his parents."

Football is more than a sport to millions of children all over Brazil. It's a lifestyle, a dream and, much hope, maybe a savior that might open a door out of places like Dona Marta.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

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