Brazil and Barcelona great Neymar Jr, is giving thousands of young footballers in 35 countries the chance to step up their game by staging a unique five-a-side knockout tournament.
With eight local qualifiers in seven emirates, UAE-based footballers aged 16 to 25 will compete for a spot in the National Final at Dubai’s Global Village on April 7.
The team emerging from the National Final will represent the UAE in the World Final, set to take place in July at the Praia Grande, where Neymar Jr grew up, started his professional career and lately founded 'Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr'.
The Fifa’s Ballon d’Or award nominee who grew up playing the same kind of fast-paced five-a-side football in his neighbourhood said: “It’s a fun, fast and technical game. It's the kind of football I've always loved to play and this time we play it with a special twist to it: the five-player teams lose one player each time they concede a goal until there are no players left, or the 10-minute game ends. This will be even more exciting.
“I always dreamed of putting on my own signature tournament and invite the best teams over to my hometown. This finally becomes a reality so I'm really looking forward to see what these players can do - and have a great time doing it.”
Neymar Jr, who alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez has lit up La Liga with Barcelona this season, helped devise the format and will also have the winning team as his guests at a match at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain.
The world final will be held in July at the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The institute’s aim is to offer extracurricular educational and sporting activities to the most socially disadvantaged children and families to promote social inclusion and encourage participation in the community.
The Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr was opened in 2014 and is the second 'FutbolNet' program in Brazil in partnership with FC Barcelona Foundation after a first was set up in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro two years earlier.
Teams of 5 to 7 players can sign up now via www.neymarjrsfive.com to participate in their local qualifiers.
The UAE qualifiers will take place on the following dates:
March 4 - Dubai qualifier
March 11 - Abu Dhabi qualifier
March 12 - Al Ain qualifier
March 17 - Ras Al Khaimah qualifier
March 18 - Sharjah qualifier
March 25 - Fujairah qualifier
March 26 - Ajman qualifier
April 1 - UAQ qualifier
April 7 - National Final