It was a Friday afternoon with a blazing hot sun, but at The Pearl, Qanat Quartier’s Lido Veneziat was buzzing with activity. Small groups of young men – and a few women – were arriving every minute, joining the rapid increasing crowd gathering there.
The final day of Red Bull’s Neymar Jr’s Five Qatar Qualifiers. Exactly 283 teams had applied from Qatar, and after showing off some serious football skills over the last three weeks, 16 had made it to the Qualifier’s finals. But this day was it, each one of the these 16 teams would show us the best the had got, because at the end, only one team would emerge as the winner and get the opportunity to represent Qatar at the final in Brazil this summer.
Red Bull’s Neymar Jr’s Five is not like any other football tournament. Five-a-side teams of 16 to 25 years old compete against each other in a 10 minute matches with no goal keeper but there’s also a twist; each time you score, the opposing team loses a player. You win by eliminating the opposing team, or having more players at the end of 10 minutes. Neymar itself describes it as his signature style tournament; fun, fast and technical.
The sun had already set by the time the evening’s victors emerged: Skyber. Faces shining with triumph, their excitement hardly allowed them to keep still as everyone gathered around them to celebrate their victory. These five youths will represent Qatar at the world championship.