Brazil and FC Barcelona great Neymar Jr has announced plans for the second edition of his signature five-a-side global tournament and spoke about his own hopes and dreams – including a future playing in the United States.
In 2016, Neymar Jr’s Five made an instant impact with more than 10,000 teams and 65,000 players in 47 countries on six continents vying for overall victory in the world’s biggest five-a-side football tournament. The five-a-side games last 10 minutes and feature a unique twist, as every time one team scores, the opposition loses a player. It’s inspired by the street football Neymar Jr himself grew up playing.
In 2017, it gets more competitive with regional qualifiers in 53 countries and a rule change giving more players the chance to compete. The World Championship will again be held in Praia Grande, Brazil at Neymar Jr’s Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr in July 2017.
In the USA, the road to the finals travels through 16 qualifiers in 10 states, kicking off March 25 in Tampa, Fla. and Dallas, TX. From there, qualifiers continue on through California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Kansas, Ohio and Colorado. The top two teams from each qualifier then travel to the US finals in Miami in June. For dates, locations and to register, head to Neymar Jr’s Five.
Last year, Team TC Broders from Fresno, Calif. took the USA crown and traveled to Praia Grande to meet Neymar Jr. himself and compete in the World Final, where they faced stiff competition and got knocked out in the Round of 32. Praia Grande is where Neymar Jr grew up, started his professional career and recently founded his institute, which offers extracurricular educational and sporting activities to disadvantaged children in the community.
Neymar Jr, who captained Brazil to the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, has a special place in his heart for the USA.
“Long term, if I could choose any other country to play in it would be the United States. The culture in the US is incredible, and that really attracts me – as do the amazing cities. It would be a great place to play one day.”
His 2017 tournament is again open to teams of five to seven players aged 18 to 25, but for the first time two over-aged players are allowed as part of each squad.
“I always played with my friends, using small goals,” he said. “The tournament reminds me of my childhood and I am very proud of it. To win the five-a-side games and outplay them all, you need strategy and a good understanding of what the best moment is to attack and defend. A good defense is very important as well and can bring your team very far in the tournament.”
Brazil’s Anjos da Bola, the 2016 World Champions, were rewarded with a VIP trip to Barcelona, where they got to spend time with Neymar Jr. at the FC Barcelona training ground. “Meeting the winners was incredible!” said Neymar Jr. “Now I can’t wait to see who makes it through to the 2017 World Final at my Instituto in Brazil.”
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