WITH the 2014 FIFA World Cup just two months away, sportswear giant Nike decided to hype things up for local young footballers by launching a new challenge in Kuala Lumpur called Winner Stays.

Teams participating in the challenge will compete in teams of five, and they will be playing in an exciting new five-minute game format.

The first team to score a goal will be rewarded with the other team losing a player. The next team to score a goal wins, earns a point and stays on the court to challenge a new team. If the scores remain 0-0 or 1-0 at the end of the five minutes, both teams lose and leave the field without any points, so teams have to “risk everything” (Nike’s tagline for the challenge) to attack and score a goal.

National footballer Safee Sali was at the Nike Winner Stays launch to offer words of advice to the young footballers.

National footballer Safee Sali was at the Nike Winner Stays launch to offer words of advice to the young footballers.

The games will be held around the Klang Valley over two weeks next month, with the final round to be played on May 24.

After that, the winning team will face off with the winners of the same challenge in Indonesia.

Nike Malaysia marketing manager Robin Kok, 31, said: “We’re taking this opportunity when football fever is high to create a platform for these teens and youths to play more phenomenally. (With the new format), we’re daring them to risk everything.”

Kok was speaking at the launch of the challenge last week at a football field in SS18, Subang Jaya, Selangor, where a group of young footballers from around the area – and Malaysian national player Safee Sali – had a short kick-about.

Safee himself got into the thick of the action for a bit, before he addressed the players and shared some encouraging words.

“This challenge is great for the younger generation as it will test their ability to take on risks … to score before the five minutes are up,” said Safee.

“But another objective of this campaign is to give the youths the opportunity to play for their country (against the winners from Indonesia). They won’t be playing just for their kampung – they will be playing for the country.”

Having said that, Safee will never forget his days of playing in the kampung.

“I grew up like this, playing on fields and in the streets. We used to call it ‘street soccer’, but times have changed and now it has changed to things like futsal,” he said.

In terms of key ingredients for success, Safee advised the players to always have a determination to win and exercise discipline to improve.

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