Muscat: Oman's five-a-side team will be looking to make their country proud at the Neymar Jr's Five football tournament, which is to be held at the hometown of the Brazilian superstar.
The team, which comprises of students from Majan College, earned the right to represent the Sultanate after being crowned local champions earlier this year. Sixteen of the country's best teams competed in the National Final of the tournament, which was held in Oman for the second year running.
Qualifying rounds to select these 16 teams were held in Boushar, Darsait, Maabelah, Mussanah, Sohar, Shinas, Nizwa and Salalah, with a total of 1,932 players turning out to compete.
"Last year we won the tournament in Oman and we are protecting our title," said team captain Mazin Al Harthy. "We have players from Muscat, Bousher and Amerat who will be representing Oman."
"It's our coach who managed to bring us together again. We all play for the college and have been playing together for a couple of years," he added.
The team will now travel to Praia Grande in Brazil, where the five-a-side tournament — which is named after Brazil and Barcelona star Neymar Jr – will take place on the 7th and 8th of July.
Fifty three teams will take part in the tourney, as they face off against each other for the 32 spots in the knockout stages, ultimately putting them on course for the final, and Neymar himself is thrilled to have been part of the grassroots development of the sport across the world.
More than 100,000 players have competed for the right to travel to Brazil for the second edition of Neymar Jr's Five, up from 65,000 the last time around.
"Nobody expected so many players from so many different countries and I'm delighted to see people playing the game the way it should be played – together, in friendship, and with a great sense of fun," he said, "This is football the way I grew up playing it and I hope the numbers just get bigger and bigger."
The tournament will be held at the The Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr, a private, non-profit association dedicated to social causes, set up by the player and his family.
Located in Jardim Glória, in Praia Grande, where Neymar spent much of his childhood, the Institute is an education and sporting complex catering to 2,470 underprivileged children aged seven to 14 and their families.
Neymar Jr's five-a-side tournament is unique, in that it features no goalkeepers. Instead, five outfield players compete against each other, with one team losing a player once they score a goal, making for fast, frenetic, highly technical football.
Winners of the tournament get to play against Neymar in a five-a-side game, in addition to an all-expenses paid trip to Barcelona, where they get to watch a live game, and visit the training ground alongside Neymar.