For any Kiwi footballer, an opportunity to train on the grounds where global superstars like Pele and Neymar started off is a dream come true.
At just nine-years-old, Mahaki Pomare-Rakena has done more than that after a video of his skills earned him invitations to train in the futsal departments of some of Brazil's most prestigious clubs.
He and another aspiring junior, eight-year-old Anas Al-Afaghani, trained at eight clubs including Santos, Fluminense, Parana, Atletico Paranaense and Santa Cruz over five weeks. The trip was arranged by their Auckland-based futsal coach Callum Christopher, who also accompanied them to Brazil.
Santos, the club where Pele starred for 18 years, and others have invited the pair back for futher training in the future while Parana and Santa Cruz have offered Pomare-Rakena an opportunity to play in their futsal programme during the first half of next year.
Raised in a Maori family in Mt Roskill, Pomare-Rakena used to play both rugby league and football on the weekends, but it was clear from an early age which code he was passionate about.
"I used to kick any ball. Tennis ball or basketball, a rugby ball – even socks," said Pomare-Rakena.
The Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o nga Maungarongo student trains three times a week in Christopher's futsal programme, which uses a curriculum and methodology derived from Brazil's top clubs.
He plays above his age grade in Auckland and will be even better after matching up against kids in Brazil.
"How we play rugby, they play soccer as hard as us," he said.
Under FIFA regulations, neither player can sign a playing contract with an overseas club until they turn 18. They are permitted to train only or play as guests in their futsal programme, which has been used as a stepping stone for a number of professional players.
"So if it's my dream, I got to take it no matter what," Pomare-Rakena said.
"I only get one chance at life to have this, have like an opportunity like this."