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Neymar's Five draws big numbers in Houston

By - May 20, 2018

By Mariah Gallegos/For The Sporting Nation


HOUSTON -- An intense Saturday afternoon in Houston at the Neymar Jr. Global Five-A-Side tournament including 56 teams fighting for the chance to win a trip to Miami and compete for the ultimate prize – meeting and playing against the world-famous Brazilian soccer player Neymar Jr.

The team “Pedacera” opened cans of Red Bull and celebrated when player Carlos Torres scored the winning goal in the 1-v-1 game final. 

Neymar Jr.'s Five is an international tournament played in more than 60 countries including Brazil and France. The teams play a 10-minute game with a unique twist. Every time one team scores, the other team loses a player. 

Neymar Jr. grew up in a low-income neighborhood where his only opportunity to practice soccer was to play an alternative known as ‘Futsal.’ He wanted to create a worldwide tournament where others could experience the competitiveness and intensity of the same way he played. 

If two teams finish the match tied, then they must each choose a player to fight in a one-on-one battle. 

Torres played with all the energy he had left after the seven-hour day and won his team an all-expenses-paid trip to Miami for the regional tournament. 

“It was a new experience for me today, it was great and we won. We played great every game, the whole team and we did it,” said Torres.

Houston’s heat didn’t stop the players or fans from enjoying the second annual Neymar Jr. Five tournament presented in their beloved city.

“It’s always cool to go to a big soccer event because everyone there is into the same thing you’re into,” says “Sphere” team player DJ Diveny, “so it’s nice to be a part of the same culture as other people.”

Diveny is an Instagram phenomenon known for his soccer skills and tricks. He’s also a part of the team “Sphere.”

Sphere is a power-team which also consists of former MLS Dynamo player Michael Chabala. Many expected Chabala and his team to be the champions and represent in Miami, however the tournament became an unexpected outcome full of nail-biting moments. 

“Actually today was a win for Sphere, our girls won and we had another one of our guy teams win in San Antonio,” said Chabala. “Honestly I hate losing but our goal here was to enhance the experience for Red Bull and to participate in the community.”

Sphere won the Houston tournament last year and returned with hopes of advancing again, but Chabala enjoyed seeing other teams experience the same feeling. 

“We’ll be back if the Neymar Jr. event keeps happening,” said Chabala, “It’s such a cool opportunity to connect with other players and build these relationships.”

U.S. Futsal national team player Eduardo Macias was one of many fans at Bull Creek Saturday afternoon. Macias played in the Neymar Jr. Five tournament in Dallas in March and won. Macias and his team will be advancing to Miami to compete against the best of the best from different cities in the U.S.

“It would be so exciting to meet Neymar,” said Macias, “he’s one of the greatest players in the world right now and to meet him would be unfathomable, I can’t even think of how happy I’d be.”

Many players showed their love for Neymar by wearing jerseys, backpacks and drinking the new Red Bull with Neymar’s picture. 

Pedacera is excited to advance to the next round of competition in June.

“I’ve been playing since I was a kid and to win something like this is just a dream,” said Torres. 

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