Sinop's new goalkeeping hero
© Foto-net

Aline, Brazil's goalkeeper at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, has not had an easy route to international football. Hailing from the small town of Sinop, in the north of Mato Grosso state, she grew up thousands of kilometres away from the big football centres of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. But there is a precedent for her presence in the Seleçao; Sao Paulo's exuberant keeper Rogerio Ceni played football in the town as a youth, and is seen as a symbol of football in the little settlement in the west of the country.

Yet, paradoxically, she does not see Rogerio Ceni as an inspiration. "My main inspiration was my brother, who's a goalie as well," she told FIFA.com. "But he's injured now, and not playing any more. And now my whole family has gotten behind me. So, really, Rogerio Ceni is just another player for me!"

Growing up in Sinop meant that it was hard to attract attention as a footballer initially. "In Mato Grosso it's not very easy to find clubs, and there's not really a history of success on the field," Aline explains.

One is enough
So how did a girl from this remote outpost come to be part of the national team? "It was my first Copa do Brasil, and I was playing for Mato Grosso. I had to travel 500 kilometres to the capital [Cuiaba] to play, and I only played one game, then got injured. But at the end of the tournament, I got a message saying that they were choosing girls for the U-17 team - and I was selected! I don't really know how it happened."

Aline was injured again in the Brazilians' opening match of the tournament against England, but, showing a true country girl's tenacity, recovered to play in the second game against Korea Republic. And although the results in New Zealand have not gone Brazil's way, she has very much enjoyed the experience as a whole. "New Zealand is a beautiful country," she says. "So clean! And the people we've met have been so nice, smiling all the time."

And does Aline harbour ambitions of making a career in football? "In women's football in Brazil, there aren't too many opportunities just yet, it's still very difficult," she explains. "I need to concentrate on my studies as well, I will try to keep both going at the same time. All the girls in this team want to continue playing, but the future is very uncertain. It's what we call 'being in a leaky boat' - anything can happen!"