In the world of soccer, where talent meets strategy and passion fuels dreams, Soccer coach extraordinaire Keli Abdalla Berni stands out as both a visionary coach and a shrewd businesswoman. As a prestigious franchisee of R9 Ronaldo Academy, a distinguished soccer school founded by one of the greatest soccer players ever, Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima, Keli seamlessly merges her deep understanding of the sport with her keen legal acumen, honed throughout the years in her home country of Brazil.

With an intuitive grasp of each child’s abilities and aspirations, she navigates the terrain of player development with finesse, sculpting not just skilled athletes, but empowered individuals primed for success both on and off the field. In this article, we get to know the multifaceted world of Keli Abdalla Berni, where soccer meets strategy, and where dreams find their wings.

How does your background in Brazil impact how you manage and operate Ronaldo Soccer Academy?

Keli coaching on the soccer field

For the R9 Ronaldo Academy I need to follow many rules with the government because we work with kids and the kids have to follow many rules for the youth federation. I have many contracts with the city to use public spaces, for employer’s contracts, etc. Many of these rules are reminiscent of the law work I handled in Brazil.

In what ways has your experience with law helped you to handle administrative work and negotiations for Ronaldo Academy?

With my work in Brazil, I had to explain all the details for clients. One example, when I worked in the auditing and notary office we needed to explain how all things worked – my real estate client would sell a house and he would need to transfer the house to another person and I had to explain how all things would work with the documents. My specialty was if one person needed a death certificate, I would need to divide all the assets between family members. Lawyers would contract me to do this, therefore I worked with many lawyers throughout the years. I also handled divorce certificates.

Do you use your law skills to help with the education of the children in soccer?

In any form of work you do you need to follow the rules. For example, in youth soccer federation there are conduct codes that need to be followed, all of this is essential for my job because if the parents or the kids don’t follow the rules, the youth federation will not allow them to play. The coaches need to pass a background check and exemplify good conduct and prove great experience. If I don’t have these things, I would have many problems because the kids in the Ronaldo program are extremely demanding.

Did you ever have a problem at your school that you were able to fix because of your knowledge?

Keli and her family with Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima (top, middle)

Since I have extensive experience with being able to tell if documents are real or forged, I can cross that ability over. I have had problems with parents that want to put their children in other age groups to play. For instance, a parent could have a fifteen year old son but the parents might try to convince me that their son is twelve years old so that he can play in a lower age group. This would give the child an unfair advantage. The parents would try to give me an illegal document and I have the ability to tell if it is authentic or not. I had to take many courses in Brazil to learn about telling the difference between real and counterfeit documents.

Furthermore, I can recommend players for when they go to college, especially if they are planning to play soccer in college or beyond that level in the professionals. My recommendation at R9 Ronaldo School is very important for this. This can open doors for scholarships or much more.

Have you discovered any surprising connections with your background with law now that you own a soccer school?

My biggest surprise is how the studying never seems to end in the soccer world. I take and pass courses for coaches and rules. I need to understand what the needs are for real situations with the coaches, the kids, what needs to improve, what the parents want. Ultimately, I need to be patient when speaking with parents and clients because I need to explain every detail very clearly. It is the same as my previous job in Brazil, when a person has a divorce or dies I would need to explain all the details of all surrounding this. I was also responsible for collecting the taxes for government as well.

The gratifying part of this is being able to send kids to college or the professional route and help the kids get college grants. My law background comes into this because there are specific sports lawyers in the United States, and since the United States is a very competitive country, we train our students hard by teaching them exactly what the law of sports (and sports lawyers) demand here. It is gratifying to see the kids grow in this way to accomplish their dreams. And of course, we have Ronaldo, the best soccer player in the world, and with this it helps the reputation of the kid when they have studied under his methodology.

What do you hope to bring to the United States that you bring from Brazil?

The patience you need when dealing with law, the patience of being honest and correct, and the patience for sports. I want to bring all my work experience to help the United States grow more in the world of soccer!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time when you are not running R9 Ronaldo Academy?

I love going to parks with my children, and anything that has animals or involves nature. Also, I enjoy challenges and adrenaline along with exploring and traveling. I love to see different places! And when I am tired and need to relax I love watching Netflix or Movies!