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SOCCER

Neymar Fives arrives in Phoenix, again

By - Apr 29, 2017

By Jacob Lev/For The Sporting Nation


Street soccer with a big-name tournament returns to Phoenix on Saturday.


With Neymar Jr’s Five tournament set to get underway April 29, teams including last year's Phoenix champion “The Chakalakas” are starting to get ready to win for a shot at a trip to Brazil to play for the world championship and a chance to meet soccer icon and Barcelona forward Neymar Jr.

 

The tournament, however, is not based on soccer, it's based off a smaller version called Futsal. Eddie Salcedo, who is a manager of the tournament called it a “high success” in regards to the actual tournament.


“Global five-a-side signature soccer tournament taking place in 53 countries for male and female players. Neymar Jr. helped devise a special twist: a five-player team loses one player each time they concede a goal until there are no players left, or the 10-minute game ends,” Salcedo said.


Mario Pacheco, a 21-year-old from Arizona who plays on “The Chakalakas” is giddy with excitement over this coming weekends tournament. "Neymar is one of my idols and I am a fan of (his team, FC) Barcelona also,” Pacheco said.


Pacheco, who went to high school at Phoenix's South Mountain, played three years on the soccer team but decided not to pursue soccer any further.


“I started playing soccer when I was seven years old. I played with my little cousin and played on my uncle's team, nothing too big,” Pacheco said.


When asked about the upcoming tournament, Pacheco said, “I don't know, we played last year, and won the Phoenix bracket.”


Winning the Phoenix bracket means your team gets to go to Miami and play against the other teams who won their respective cities, like Chicago, Houston and Kansas City to name a few.


“We are preparing the same [for this year's tournament],” Pacheco said.


Growing up in Brazil, Neymar Jr. did not play soccer, he played Futsal and wanted to make a worldwide tournament that showed off how he grew up.


Salcedo said, “Neymar Jr' s Five started last year as Neymar Jr. wanted to create a tournament that mirrored his style of play growing in Brazil.”


That’s when the tournament expanded to 53 different countries including Egypt, Jordan and Qatar. As of now, there are 863 teams and 2,657 players playing in it this year.


“Neymar Jr’s Five is in its second year and after a highly successful first year and increased participation in Year Two, we are looking forward to growing the tournament going into Year Three,” Salcedo said.


With soccer becoming an ever-growing popular sport in the world, it's hard to see the tournament not expand as the years go on. Just in the Phoenix tournament alone, there are 39 teams signed up with at least five people per team this year.


The tournament means a lot to the players including Pacheco.

“It means a lot, it's something that I care a lot about. You get to go to Miami, and then you get to go to Brazil and play for the championship. It is awesome,” Pacheco said.


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