Meeting with Barcelona star awaits Hong Kong soccer players after Neymar Jr’s Five victory

Winning captain Wood Li Ka-yiu hails life-changing opportunity as rugby, soccer and netball light up Sevens build-up event the Beach 5’s

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 April, 2017, 9:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 April, 2017, 11:24pm

The chance to play soccer in Brazil and meet Barcelona superstar Neymar is life-changing for Wood Li Ka-yiu and his teammates, the captain of Neymar Jr’s Five winners Away says.

Held at Repulse Bay over the weekend as part of the Beach 5’s – a popular Hong Kong Sevens build-up event – the tournament saw teams battle it out for the chance to represent Hong Kong in the world finals at the Neymar Jr Project Institute in Praia Grande later this year.

The tournament is inspired by the street football Neymar grew up playing and through it, the 25-year-old Brazil star is determined to give youth the opportunity to experience the game of soccer.

“All in all it is a life-changing experience for us,” Li said of the all-expenses-paid trip.

“When we play football, we think about Brazil so it is an honour to represent Hong Kong in this competition.

“The most important thing is to meet people from other countries, that’s why we love to play football because we can learn skills from them and build relationships.”

The prospect of meeting one of their heroes left the team of five visibly excited and they are hoping their own games can benefit from rubbing shoulders with the sides from more than 50 countries that will compete in Brazil.

“Of course we are looking forward to meeting Neymar and other Brazil national team players,” Li said.

“Brazil is the number one country in football with Neymar and Coutinho and players like that so we are looking forward to it.”

The tournament involved teams of five battling it out in 10-minute games, with the unique format seeing sides lose a player when their opponents scored a goal.

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Players must be aged between 16 and 25, however two players can be older than 25 and there are no gender restrictions.

The Away side was made up of 24-year-old captain Li, Yu Kin-Leung, Leung Chi-lung, Samson Liu Tsan-shu and Carter Tsui Hoi-kin, who play locally for first division side Eastern District.

The quintet chose the name Away because it represented their goal in the competition.

“We normally wouldn’t have the chance to go so far away,” Li said. “We can’t wait to go to Brazil, to meet the other teams and see the level of difference and see how we can beat them.”

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The Beach 5’s also saw two days of hard-fought rugby, with a Mavericks team featuring a host of Borelli Walsh USRC Tigers players triumphing in the men’s cup final.