neymar sculpture world cup brasilia Syrian artists in Brasilia want to send a message to Neymar.
Credit: Andressa Anholete / Metro Brasília

At first sight, the boys called Jumar and Limar seem like just two ordinary children among the thousands who worship Neymar - and even his haircut. Their stories, however, go beyond the rutted and small fields where almost every kid starts playing soccer.

Born in Syria, the two boys explain with a disconcerting nonchalance the reason why they left their own country one year ago and headed for Brazil, host of the 2014 World Cup: "There was a lot of war, bombs and rockets everywhere," they said.

Jumar and Limar are the sons of Syrian artist, Riad Al Najm, 49, who fled from conflict in Damascus, the capital of Syria, with his brother Fahed Al Najm, 48. In Damascus, the Al Najms built dolls of resin and clay for the theater and television shows. After the conflicts in the country harmed a nephew and bombs fell very close to their studio, both brothers came to Brasilia, where they continue to work om art.

Last year, they began to build a trophy in honor of Neymar, with a larger-than-life likeness of the player's face. The idea is to give it to the athlete while the team is in Brasilia on June 23, when the team will play against Cameroon at the Mané Garrincha Stadium.


While Jumar and Limar speak Portuguese, Riad and Fahed have not learned the language yet. Through gestures and his nephews' translations, Fahed explains why he wants to deliver the project to Neymar: "We want to give it to him because he is a good player and the reason why the whole world is watching," he said. “We want to ask him to send this message - that countries should end war because many children die during it." Fahed still tries to summarize and makes a bird with his hands to show what he is looking for: peace.

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