By Kate Rintoul, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – When the World Cup kicks off on June 12th people are going to be glued to their TVs around the globe, captivated by the drama of one of the most anticipated tournaments in recent memory. Yet football (soccer) is more than even a mega-event in Brazil, it is culture and a lifestyle for many Cariocas and now Só 5 (Only Five) has made a business by offering pitches and a recreation venue.
Só 5 refers to the smaller and faster version of the glorious game, where the teams are made up of just five players on each side. The scale of the game is popular in Europe as it makes for easier pick-up matches, but until now has not had that large a footprint in Rio.
Sidney Bovy, originally from France, arrived in Rio to work in sports marketing and production. A keen amateur footballer back in France, he brought his passion for the game with him to Rio, but found his ability to play football with friends and colleagues limited in the city.
“We found there was something missing in Rio’s football offering: a place to play in security, with some good facilities, pitches and services dedicated to companies,” Bovy said.
The group began imagining what a space dedicated to football and events would look like and soon Só 5 was born. The company has created a comprehensive range of high quality activities which include pitches for 5-a-side games, special events for companies, a lounge bar and a football academy for children, all of which take place in the immaculate purpose built complex in Botafogo.
“The quality of infrastructure is the main focus of our business, especially the fields and quality of the services. When you play in Rio, most of the time you don’t want to get a shower in the place after the game and you hardly stay to have a beer or eat something. Só 5 is not only a place to play football but also for networking with colleagues and partners, in an atmosphere outside the office,” Bovy added.
The corporate offering available at Só 5 has grown rapidly over the last two and a half years, and Bovy thinks that the high demand for this kind of service stems for the passion for football that permeates Brazilian life and culture. “Football is one of the best examples of a universal activity. A lot of people love to watch or play football in the world and even more in Brazil.”
Só 5 also wanted to be able to cater to younger players, although they didn’t want to be tied to just one Carioca club, knowing how deep rivalries exist and not wanting to alienate certain fans. Bovy and the other founders drew upon their experiences.
“We thought about European clubs and our good contacts with Paris Saint-Germain FC or PSG, and knowing that the club has a big commercial strategy worldwide. We thought that launching an academy in Rio just before the World Cup was a good opportunity for them as well.”
Só 5’s PSG academy is the club’s first in South America and the partnership is going very well. Bovy adds, “we have more than 130 children. They are all very happy to be a part of the PSG team and they say all the time that the quality of training and infrastructure is much better than the other schools in Rio.”
With the World Cup just over a week away, Só 5 has a packed schedule of events planned and are excited about the tournament. As well as transmitting all the games, the academy will be running intensive three-hour morning sessions and are also working with specific community groups of foreigners living in Rio.