OLATHE, Kan. — She’s tiny, but mighty.
A budding soccer star from the Kansas City metro is now an adopted friend of one of Europe’s best pro soccer clubs, even though she’s only 6 years old.
Ariana dos Santos’ shots on goal are strong, even thought her size, and age, are noticeably small. The Lee’s Summit, Mo., native plays in the KC Fusion league against seven and 8-year-olds, even though she’s only 6.
“It’s just really fun for me,” dos Santos said on Thursday.
The Facebook page her parents build for her is proving to be popular, attracting over 57,000 likes as of Thursday night. Ariana’s video clips are gathering attention, as she shows a high acumen for soccer, despite her young age. When one of those video clips made it to the locker room at FC Barcelona, a popular Spanish team that often dominates European play, that team’s players fell in love with Ariana, and asked her family to join them as guests of honor for a match in March.
“(FC Barcelona) has dominated the world. They were right there, and saying good things about her, and saying it’s unbelievable the way she plays,” David dos Santos, Ariana’s father, said.
David dos Santos is also Ariana’s coach. He works as a full-time soccer coach in the KC Fusion league, and grew up actively playing the game in Brazil. He could hardly contain his enthusiasm when, during training with FC Barcelona, Ariana scored a goal against one of the team’s best players. That squad’s players were complimentary of Ariana’s skills.
“That was actually my best shot in my whole life,” Ariana dos Santos smiled.
“They told me I have gold in my hand that I need to make sure I keep her going. She’s going to be, for sure, the best player in the world,” David dos Santos told FOX 4 News on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Ariana’s online popularity continues to grow. Some of her social media videos have as many as 12-million views. Her family hopes it’s that kind of attention that will propel her into pro soccer someday.
“It’s a lot of excitement, and I’m proud. I’m a proud mother that I get to see my daughter asked,” Hollie dos Santos, Ariana’s mother, said.
“Right before we left Spain, she didn’t want to leave, and she said, ‘When I come back, I’m going to play for them’,” David dos Santos said.
And for this tiny soccer star, the future looks huge.
Managers at Sporting Kansas City have also invited Ariana to be guest of honor at one of their matches at Children’s Mercy Park. Follow this link to see her popular Facebook page.