TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Ten-year-old Florida Premier soccer player Ariana dos Santos has become a viral sensation.
“She’s small and technical,” her father and coach David dos Santos said.
She’s tiny but mighty.
“I can do my moves, and use my speed,” Ariana said.
From her first steps, Ariana had a soccer ball at her feet.
“I coach her, I work with soccer, so she didn’t have many options,” David said. “She was at the field pretty much her whole life.”
The family lived in Kansas City, where David was a coach, before moving to Florida two years ago. David grew up and actively played the game in Brazil.
“Probably my favorite part of the game is either scoring goals, assisting, and most of all it is winning,” Ariana said.
To win, you've got to put the ball in the net.
“The most (goals) I’ve ever scored is 12 (in a game),” she said.
If you think that’s impressive, wait until you see her 213,000-plus followers on Instagram. She’s met her soccer idol Neymar, Jr., and was introduced to the world when Steve Harvey invited her on his show Little Big Shots.
“With time, she started getting better and better, and there she is,” David said.
Ariana is not just interested in becoming a viral sensation, she wants to become a professional soccer player — even within the next few years.
“I want to play in the World Cup when I am 16 years old, not only to play there but to win it,” she said.
Ariana is still deciding which country to play for. She has time to figure that out. This Brazilian-American futbolista will get there with hard work, practicing three hours a day, five days a week, proving girls can be good at soccer, too.
“Girls, no one pays attention to them,” she said. “They all think that boys are better than them. Whenever you grow up, if you are a girl, you are going to try to change the sport and try to make girls equal with boys.”