Neymar Jr.’s Five, a globally established five-on-five football tournament, has reached its last leg – the country finals to be held on Friday, March 10 at Cyber Hub, Gurgaon.
With over 1,000 teams participating in the knockout rounds in 12 cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Guwahati, Goa, Cochin, Shillong, Ahmedabad and Chennai – it has come down to the battle of the final 18 teams, taking them closer to that coveted ticket to Neymar Jr’s own backyard.
Neymar Jr’s Five gives football lovers across India a chance to use their street skills to carve their path to glory, and a chance to represent the country in Brazil. City qualifiers for the 2017 national finals were held across 12 cities in the country between October and December last year, including Ahmedabad, Goa, Cochin, Guwahati, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The winning teams will now compete at the national finals on Friday, March 10 alongside the winners of the corporate leg for a chance to make it to the Neymar Jr’s Five World Finals in Brazil.
The inaugural edition of Neymar’s signature football tournament featured more than 65,000 people taking part across six continents and 47 countries. This year, teams from around the world have again set out in the hope of making it all the way from the qualifiers to the World Final in July at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr in Praia Grande, Brazil.
The tournament has a unique, fast-paced format. Neymar Jr’s Five sees two teams of five players, sans a goalkeeper, have 10 minutes to strut their stuff and win a chance to impress Barcelona’s number 11. The twist in this thrilling affair is that for each goal scored by a team, a member of the opposition will have to leave the field. The team with the maximum players take the spoils.
The first ever qualifiers for the tournament in India held last year as Winning 5, a young team from Bangalore – called Dream Team – emerged victorious, and subsequently travelled to Brazil to compete in the Neymar Jr’s Five World Finals in July last year. The format returned to India this year as Neymar Jr’s Five for the first time and bigger than ever.
Says Dream Team, the team from Bengaluru who experienced this first hand, "The format for Neymar Jr’s Five is a lot of fun. The rules make it a lot more fun and competitive – you lose your game for a minute and bam, you lose a player. Properties such as this motivate Indian footballers to work hard, to achieve opportunities to represent their own country, which is always a very proud moment. We stayed in Brazil for five days and remember every second of it. We went to Santos, Neymar Jr’s home town, and the people there are some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. We visited the Santos stadium, which is where the draws were decided. Over the next two days we played the tournament, which was held in Neymar’s stadium, Instituto Neymar Jr – and what a beautiful stadium it is. On the second day, the most loved man in the country, Neymar Jr himself, came and we couldn’t believe our eyes. He is a beast, and such an inspiration to people all over the world."