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Brazilian soccer legend to open academy in Tampa

By Danielle Hauser, Times Correspondent
Rafael Bertani (in the gray shirt), Keli Soares and Rodrigo Soares pose with Ronaldo Academy CEO and famaed Brazilian player Ronald (center). The Soares are the co-owners of Ronaldo Academy Tampa. Photo courtesy of Ronaldo Academy Tampa.

Brazilian Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, starred as one of the greatest international soccer players of all time from 1993-2011.

The three time FIFA World Player of the Year dubbed "The Phenomenon," retired in 2011, yet continues to be an international ambassador for the game of soccer. In 2015, Ronaldo founded the Ronaldo Academy in Brazil, and now there are locations in China and the United States.

Ronaldo Academy Tampa is the second location to open in the United States. Owners Rodrigo and Keli Soares recently moved from Brazil to open the academy. The husband and wife chose Tampa because they fell in love with the city and people of Tampa, and they felt it would be successful because of the many professional sports organizations that are here.

Ronaldo Academy was created with the mission to spread the phenomenal playing style that made Ronaldo so successful. The Ronaldo methodology teaches young soccer players skills to be successful both on and off the field.

"He wants to use soccer to create better people," said Rodrigo Soares. "He really cares about how we’re treating the kids, how the practices are going with the kids, and how the coaches are teaching kids to play soccer."

Both Fall and Spring soccer is offered for boys and girls, ages 2-17. There are formation, developmental, and competitive divisions. On Friday evenings, formation classes are offered, and each week focuses on a different soccer skill. There are plans for afterschool programs and summer camps. Uniforms are required and can be purchased onsite.

The facility features three outdoor, synthetic grass fields, lighting, a locker room, and snack bar.

Ronaldo Academy Tampa is located at 5901 W Linebaugh Ave. For more information, call 813-842-5734, or visit r9tampa.com.

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