Third time's the charm for Spartan Elite

Saturday, May 25, 2019

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It was third time's the charm for the Spanish Town-based Spartan Elite, who won the Falmouth leg of the Red Bull Neymar Jr Five football qualifiers at Elletson Wakeland Sports Complex last Saturday.

Spartan Elite thrashed Falmouth United 3-0 in the final, with the FLOW Most Valuable Player Akeem Gibbons hitting a brace.

Spartan Elite lost out in the quarter-finals in the Kingston leg at University of the West Indies Mona Bowl on May 4, then lost 0-3 to eventual winners Medley Mixers in the St Elizabeth leg at St Elizabeth Technical High School the following Saturday.

Dubbed the biggest five-a-side football tournament in the world, the event, being hosted in Jamaica for the first time, was started by Brazilian forward Neymar de Silva Santos Junior in 2016, and is now played across six continents — set to bring aspiring Jamaican footballers the opportunity of a lifetime.

The tournament is played with five players on each side, with no goalkeepers. Whenever a team scores the opposition loses a player, which makes the games fast, technical, tactical and great fun. A game lasts 10 minutes or until one team does not have any players left. A team is expected to boast up to seven players, aged 16 to 25, plus two over 25, with no gender limitations, which means there can be mixed teams.

Spartan Elite now join Kingston's winners Malholtra FC and Medley Mixers on the waiting list for the grand finale on June 8 inside National Indoor Sports Centre at 3:00 pm, when the winners from the preliminaries compete against each other to determine the winner of the all-expenses-paid trip to Brazil to compete at the World Final to be hosted at Institute Projeto Neymar Jr in Praia Grande, Brazil, against players from 42 countries. The winning team at the World Final gets to play with Neymar Jr and his team.

With a team comprising Gibbons, Rohan Thompson, Byron Sweeney, Romario Brown, Romeo Brown, Johnoy Hanson, and Shawn Beckford, Spartan Elite defeated Falmouth Strikers 2-0, Narcos 1-0, and Common Strikers 5-0 in the preliminary stages. They got a bye in the round of 16, then repeated the trick against Falmouth Strikers with a 2-1 win in the quarter-finals, before stopping SOS City 1-0 in the semi-finals.

For Falmouth United, they lost 0-3 to SOS City, edged In Move 1-0, and slammed Narcos 5-1 in the group stage before stopping Falmouth 14 3-0 in the round of 16 — before edging New Comers and Parry Town 1-0 in the quarters and semis.

“I am looking forward to it (trials with Portmore United). It's a long time I have been wanting to go there,” Gibbons told the Jamaica Observer.

The 22-year-old, who scored a total of nine goals on the day, added that the team was “looking forward to it because we lost two matches in Kingston and St Elizabeth and we came to Falmouth and we win — so on June 8 we will just do our best”.

Gibbons is a centre forward with Frazsier's Whip Football Club in the St Catherine Football Association Super League. A total of 24 teams competed, as eight teams failed to show up after being registered for the day.

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