Rishi Tej, 10, became the first ever official match ball carrier from India at FIFA World Cup 2018 on Monday. This was after the youngster carried the football onto the pitch during the pre-match ceremony between Belgium and Panama. Rishi is among the 64 kids from across the world who have been selected in the Official Match Ball Carrier (OMBC) programme. Andhra Pradesh’s Nathania John K, will walk on to the pitch before the encounter between Brazil and Costa Rica. Prior to this India has never had any official representation at the FIFA World Cup. Further, Noida’s Priyasharan Prakash, Gurugram’s Aditya Batra and Mumbai’s Scott Ashley Rodrigues will watch selected matches at the stadium.
India football team captain Sunil Chhetri had conducted trials for selection last month. “I am overwhelmed to see the kind of talent these little kids have. They are not only just passionate about the game but are also well-versed about its nuances,” Chhetri was quoted by PTI as saying.
“I shall envy the kids who eventually go over to Russia to watch the game’s greatest players in action. It will be a life-changing experience. I must thank Kia Motors for giving me the opportunity to interact with these kids and be part of such a wonderful initiative,” he added.
Great to see India’s 1st ever Official Match Ball Carrier at the @FIFAWorldCup thanks to @KiaMotorsIN. Super initiative. Well done Rishi Tej from #bengaluru. @chetrisunil11 @squareConsult #football #lifetimeopportunity #worldcup #FifaWorldCup18 pic.twitter.com/mXUkw0Oium
— Vishal Jhunjhunwala (@vj2w) 18 June 2018
Before setting off for Russia, Rishi, who hails from Bangalore, spoke to India Today and expressed his enthusiasm over the opportunity that has come along his way. “I am so excited, you cannot measure it even. It is like I am still dreaming. In Russia, I want to live every moment. During the match, I just don’t want to enjoy but analyse how they play,” he said.
Meanwhile, automobile firm Kia Motors have partnered with FIFA for the 2018 World Cup and come up with the initiative which will witness kids across the globe participate in the World Cup.