My name is Nicolly da Silva, I’m 12 years old and I was born in Rio de Janeiro. I live in the community of Caracol that is located in Complexo da Penha. 

There are 6 of us in my family, and we all live in the same house. I share my room with my two other sisters, which sometimes is annoying. I wanted to have a room just for me and decorate it with purple paint and colorful butterflies.  

My father died at the age of 40 of pancreatic cancer. I was 10. It was very difficult for me to leave him, we were so close. Every day I cried and didn’t want to leave his room. As the days went by, I came to accept that he was in a better place. 

I’ve always lived here in Penha. Growing up has its difficulties, its barriers, but it is the only place I’ve known. And I love all of it; it’s my home. I love that I can play with my friends, I can play games and see them every day, I love that I’m close to my family.

The difficulties I believe, are the same as those faced by all communities. Our monster is violence. It’s drug trafficking. And the war that exists between drug dealers, police, and rival factions. It’s the fear of stray bullets and of losing our family members.

I’m glad that there are social projects in the community, they bring hope to the children. And Associação das Crianças de Rua Unidas (SCUB) supports me through football. 

There is a football field near my house, the girls from there recently traveled to Qatar to play in a World Cup for ‘street children’. They represented Brazil. 

My sister Jeniffer was part of the group, and I was so proud of her. I want to do that too, but if it doesn’t happen, I want to be a doctor. However, I know I have a long road full of challenges ahead of me.

I started playing football at the age of 8, and everyone thought I was crazy because I would kick the ball against the wall relentlessly. Eventually I overcame my fear and shyness and went to the field close to home to play with the other kids. 

Football means a lot in my life as it makes me happy, it has brought me new friends, and it’s important for my health. Football is my escape from the violence and the door to fulfilling my dreams. 

Just the fact that I’m playing football makes me feel happy. I like the fact that the boys respect me, I like that my friends play too. I forget that I live in a violent place, football makes me travel to a place full of hope. Where everything is rainbow colored.

I was so happy when I first started playing football. My dream was to play striker and when I played striker I loved it. 

All the children at SCUB are my friends, there are over 60 of us. I identify closely with the girls Camilly, and Evelyn. They are my best friends. We’re the same age, we started playing around the same time. They are my base because they support me and encourage me to keep playing and to pursue my dreams.

Even in football I have faced challenges: One day the boys did not choose me to play because they said that football was not for girls and one of the boys told me to go home. 

I got angry. I transformed my anger into strength and went to play, I was the best player that day.

I was certainly very sad and discouraged and even thought of giving up. But my friends Camilly, and Evelyn didn’t let me get discouraged; they are my foundation. 

We will face challenges; we just need to know how to use them for our growth. Everything happens for a purpose and every purpose teaches us.

My role model is Marta, the Brazilian striker. She fights for women’s rights in football and she’s such an amazing player. I want to be like Marta.

My dream is to be a professional player, buy my mother a big house, and be able to help the children in the community where I live. I will do my best every day to help them.

My superpower would be to heal, I would heal all the sick, especially children. If I could invent one thing, it would be a Time Machine. I would go back in time to a place where there is no violence. If I could change one thing about the world, it would be to end violence, it’s not the way to solve things. 


To celebrate the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we’re proudly showcasing Play Like A Girl, a football storytelling program from Brazil.

The storytellers are part of the Associação das Crianças de Rua Unidas (SCUB) organization in Rio de Janeiro.