Neymar Jr kicks off global signature football tournament in province

Former NI footballing legends Norman Whiteside and Jim Magiltonhave launched a unique knockout 5 a side football tournament with a difference.

Red Bull’s Neymar Jr’s 5 is a fun, fast-paced and technical game that will give young local footballers (16-25 yrs) the opportunity to put teams of 5 to 7 players together to compete to represent Northern Ireland at the World Final in Brazil this summer.

Brazil and Barcelona’s great Neymar Jr is giving thousands of young football players in more than 35 countries, the chance to step up their game and team up for his five-a-side tournament ‘Neymar Jr’s Five’.

“It’s a fun, energetic and tactical game,” said Neymar Jr, who grew up playing the same kind of fast-paced five-a-side football.

“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.”

The regional qualifying rounds will start next month in Belfast, Cookstown and Coleraine with a national final in a stadium in Northern Ireland (venue TBC) on 29 May.

The winners of this will go on to represent their region in the finals in July in Praia Grande, where Neymar Jr grew up, started his professional career and lately founded “Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr”.

Norman Whiteside knows what a great opportunity it is to get the chance to take part in such an unusual tournament, having begun his own professional football career at the age of just 17 and holding the record for being the youngest player to take part in a World Cup.

“For such a small place in comparison to other regions the sporting talent here, especially in football, never ceases to amaze me,” said Norman. “I was very lucky to get the chance to play in some of the best stadiums in the world so to be a young 16 to 25-year-old and be offered the opportunity to play in the likes of Praia Grande or Camp Nou with your team of friends and represent your country is fantastic, never mind also getting to meet such a talent like Neymar Jr.”

Jim Magilton, who works as Elite Performance Director with the IFA, and Manager of the NI under-21 team is keen to give his support for the tournament also

“It’s a real privilege for Northern Ireland to have been asked to take part in this global tournament so I would encourage as many clubs, individuals and friends who play 5-a-side to really get behind this and sign up for the regional rounds across the province. We are expecting the demand to be quite high therefore early registration is going to be necessary, to guarantee you get your chance to take part,” said Jim.