The road to Neymar Jr’s Five World Final starts here – as the Brazilian talks about his own American Dream.
The Nigerian edition of the growing 5 a side championship launched in Lagos on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 with the first games to be played in Abuja on March 3, 2017.
Neymar Jr launched the second edition of his signature five-a-side tournament on last Wednesday and spoke about his own hopes and dreams – including a future playing in the United States. Neymar Jr’s Five made an instant impact in its debut year in 2016, with more than 10,000 teams and 65,000 players in 47 countries vying for overall victory in the world’s biggest five-a-side football tournament.
This time it will be bigger than ever, with regional qualifiers in 53 countries and a rule change giving more players the chance to compete.
The 2017 tournament is again open to teams of five to seven players aged 16 to 25, but for the first time two over-aged players are allowed as part of each squad. Tens of thousands of players will set out with the hope of making it all the way from regional qualifiers to their national final and on to the World Final at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr in Praia Grande, Brazil. Neymar Jr himself is dreaming too – of more success with FC Barcelona and Brazil in 2017, and a long-term future in the country that excites him most.
“I will always continue to wish peace, health and joy to my family and friends,” Neymar Jr said when asked about his hopes for the future. “On the field, I want to continue having fun as always and as long as I can do that, my year will be good."
“In 2017, I hope to win more games, more titles and to score many more goals – as always. I want to continue evolving as an athlete and to help my team mates on the pitch, both for Barcelona and the Brazilian national team."
“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.”
Neymar Jr’s Five provides a unique challenge to players the world over, as every time one team scores, the opposition loses a player. It’s inspired by the street football Neymar Jr himself grew up playing and the Barcelona and Brazil forward cannot wait to see a new season of this remarkable tournament kick off.
“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 himself 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.”
It will be held in Port Harcourt on the weekend of March 10-13, 2017.