Namibia Braces for Neymar Fever

IN JUNE, Namibians will audition for the opportunity to face or play alongside Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr in his street football tournament in Brazil.

On Wednesday, Namibia officially become the latest country to join the Neymar Jr’s Five football movement with tournament qualifiers set for Swakopmund on 2 June, Oshakati on 9 June and Windhoek on 16 June.

The winners of the national final on 30 June in Windhoek will win an all-expenses paid trip to Sao Paulo where they will face the top teams from 62 other countries in the grand finale which kicks off on 21 July.

“I believe the experience is priceless. The chance to play in Brazil and against or with one of the world’s best football players doesn’t come around everyday,” said ex-Brave Warriors stalwart Collin Benjamin, who is part of the team coordinating the tournament in Namibia.

Another incentive, and route to the world finals, is being one of Neymar’s six teammates at the tournament.

“Neymar has one more spot left on his team and he is looking for a teammate. All you have to do is send a cool video of yourself showing why you should be chosen to be on his team. It would obviously help if you show him your best skills, so get creative,” said Red Bull national brand manager Nadja Geiger.

The competition is primarily open to players aged 16 to 25, but each team of seven is allowed to field two over-aged members.

The selling point for the global five-a-side tournament is bringing players from all corners of the world together to celebrate their shared passion: football, said founder Neymar Jr.

In 2017, over 100 000 players from 53 countries battled it out to be crowned world champions.

“It is a fast, technical and fun competition. Each match lasts 10 intense minutes, there’s no goalkeeper and whenever a team scores, the opposition loses a player. You need to outplay them all!” Neymar Jr said in a statement.

There is no gender limitation, meaning mixed teams and/or wholly female assembles can enter. Even Namibia Premier League players, who will be in off-season at the time, are eligible, the organisers said.

“It’s important for us to have girls participating. I think it increases the possibility of having more people want to participate. What makes me really excited is that each edition brings more players from more countries,” the world’s most expensive footballer added.

The initiative reached our shores through a partnership worth over N$1 million between main sponsor Bank Windhoek Red Bull Namibia, and auxiliary sponsors Snickers, NBC, Fresh Fm and Omulunga Radio.

To sign-up, log onto www.neymarjrsfive.com/en/NA. The entry fee is N$350 per team which can be registered before the team members are finalised.

“We will only have 128 teams per location [town]. From these, we will take the five top teams from Oshakati and Swakopmund each and six teams from Windhoek to make up the finals. So get registered,” said co-coordinator Harald Fülle.

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