Neymar Jr's Five: Joga Bonito's Brazilian sojourn

Joga Bonito Mumbai will represent India in the World Final of Neymar Jr's Five - a five-a-side football tournament - which will be graced by the Brazilian star.

For Anthony Machado and Daniel Fernandes of Team Joga Bonito from Mumbai, the National Champion which will represent India in the Neymar Junior Five finale, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

To most sportsmen, seeing their favourite players live in action is a dream; meeting them in person an alluring prospect.   Young footballers, for instance, grow up idolising stars like for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

However, seldom can these international stars - enamoured with name and fame - be loved and admired by all, Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar being a case in point.

While Neymar's on-field antics, during the just concluded FIFA World Cup in Russia, hogged more limelight than his footballing skills, the world's most expensive player will be the centre of attraction again — this time for his on-field prowess and persona — when the Neymar Junior Five finale gets underway in Praia Grande, Brazil on July 21.

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More than 60 countries, spread over six continents, have taken part in the tournament, all of which will send a men's and women's team to the World Final being held at the Instituto Neymar Jr, near  Santos, Neymar's hometown.

The event provides budding footballers a great chance to meet and interact with Neymar. And for Anthony Machado and Daniel Fernandes of Team Joga Bonito from Mumbai, the National Champion which will now represent India, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“He (Neymar) can dribble past any player with ease, which is one of the most beautiful sights of the game. He is one of the finest players the world has seen. His belief in himself & the team is simply outstanding. He has a lot of tricks in his bag but behind every trick, there's flair and hard work.

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"His approach towards the game is unparalleled. He is a dominating player with skills, speed and accuracy and we are looking forward to making the most out of this visit," the Mumbai boys said.

According to Anthony, leading India in the World Finals would be a 'life-changing' experience. "Neymar Jr’s Five was just the platform I was looking for. Also, I love the format of the tournament; it is very unique and different from field football. The rules make it a lot more entertaining and competitive – you lose your focus for a minute and you lose a player. Thus, the concentration level needs to be very high.

"It’s going to be fun playing in Brazil with the international teams. I would like to thank Red Bull for giving me and other young and budding footballers an opportunity to show off our skills on the global stage," Anthony said.

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Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said the platform Neymar Jr’s Five gives is immense for the young players.

"There is a lot to learn, starting with its unique and fast-paced format. The players have 10 minutes to strut their stuff and win a chance to impress Neymar. The twist in this thrilling affair is that for each goal scored by a team, a member of the opposition (side) will have to leave the field. This gives a great learning experience," he said before adding, "Secondly, engaging with both national and international players is a big, big win for any football enthusiast."

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