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EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Melb Victory star Archie Thompson talks Neymar's 5-a-side tournament

The 2018 'Neymar Jr's Five' tournament is a unique competition offering footballers all across Australia, and the world, a chance at one of the most lucrative prizes in sport today. Players across the globe will battle it out for a chance to meet Paris Saint-Germain and Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. in his own home town.

Former Melbourne Victory Striker and Socceroo Archie Thompson is the ambassador for the event, and says that the opportunity to meet the Brazilian superstar is too good to turn down.

"The Neymar 5s tournament is a great opportunity to get your mates together and do your best to progress through qualification, and maybe you'll get a chance to go to Brazil and meet the great man himself," said Thompson.

"It's great because it gives kids and adults a taste of what it was like for him growing up, lots of Brazilian and South American players would have had to start their careers playing football on the streets, so this concept comes from that. It's so exciting and unique."

In addition to his duties as an ambassador, a role he also held last year, Thompson will be taking things a step further this year and will also be pulling on the boots. He will be entering his own side into the competition for a chance to win the grand prize.

"Last year I was told what it was about, what the format was, and what the opportunity was at the end of it. It's full of opportunity and I had to get involved, it can open so many doors and that's why I liked it," Thompson said.

"I'll be putting a team in this year as well. It's great to talk about it and watch it like I did last year, but I really wanted to put a team together this year and I can't wait to be a part of it. I'd love to get another chance to meet the man too, last time we met they beat us so I want to go back and make things right."

Thompson and Neymar faced off in during an international friendly in 2013, when Neymar's Brazil outclassed Australia 6-0. Neymar, then 21 years old and fresh off a move to Barcelona, scored one and assisted one goal during that game.

The first round of local games in the Neymar Jr's Five tournament will take place at several locations around Australia across Victoria, NSW, WA, SA, ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania. Each state will also be hosting a Women's tournament, a first for the competition this year. As these teams advance from the early rounds they'll face off against other quality opponents from interstate, and then abroad, for a chance at the grand prize.

The tournament is offered to men and women between 16 and 25 years of age, with each team allowed two overage players in their side. The competition is designed so that anyone can sign up and have a go, regardless of experience or skill level.

"This is for anyone who loves their football and wants to try something unique with their mates. It's so much fun, and it's a great chance to play other people, other countries, and also who doesn't want to meet Neymar? It'll be a tough road to get there, but if you're up for the challenge and up to compete, this is a tournament for everyone," Thompson said.

The games are played under special 5 a side rules where each time a team scores, the opposition loses a player. Games are played to a 10-minute time limit, or until the opposition team has been entirely eliminated.

Qualifiers in Australia begin in Sydney on the 18th of February, and will take place until the 29th of March.

More information on dates, locations, and how to get involved can be found at www.neymarjrsfive.com/en/AU

About the author

Brodie Cowburn

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