CPD FOOTBALL | THE BLOG | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Indian school teacher and son to attend Opening Match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup

A mother and a son who have been changing the lives of thousands of kids in India through sport will be among the lucky fans in the Luzhniki Stadium for the Opening Match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™.

As part of the “Bring Someone Special” campaign launched during the FIFA Confederations Cup, Adityanshu of Muzaffarpur, India shared why he would choose his mother to sit next to him at the opening match: “I would bring my mother along. She has been championing the spirit of sports and how it improves life skills in kids during her long teaching career spanning 33 years and counting. She has thousands of kids come out and express themselves through sports. And she will be very happy and proud to be a part of the biggest sporting spectacle on Earth.”

Throughout the tournament, LED boards around the pitch and across all FIFA digital channels encouraged fans to send their submissions online, sharing in 350 characters which special person they would bring to the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and why. By sharing their stories, fans had the chance to win tickets to the opening match, including travel and accommodation for them and that special someone. The campaign generated more than 24 million impressions across all digital touchpoints and over 13,000 submissions were received from a total of 158 countries across the globe, from which the best two stories would be chosen.

After reading his submission, FIFA spoke to Adityanshu to find out more about his inspirational mother and their story. A passionate fan of football, Adityanshu’s mother, Devashree has always recognised the true spirit and meaning of sport and the power it has in transmitting life values. In spite of the challenges of being the only female teacher at the time in her school, Devashree founded the first sports programme in which she made it her mission to utilise football and sport as a tool to teach her students skills that they could use in all other aspects of their lives. The impact it had on the students and the school was dramatic. Devashree recalls, “Football helped create a sporting culture in my school and the community to which the kids belonged. And that culture has only grown stronger. Moreover, it helped the kids improve their academic results too as they became more focused and disciplined. It was win-win for everyone.”

Inspired by his mother, Adityanshu has not only grown up as a passionate fan of the game, but now also works with an NGO called Just for Kicks whose mission is to teach life skills through football to underprivileged kids in India. Currently operating in five cities, the ripple effect of his mother’s inspiration is now touching the lives of around 3,000 kids through football.

“It is stories like this that remind us of the driving force of football and its capacity to inspire people around the globe. The “Bring Someone Special” campaign has enabled FIFA to hear some of these incredible stories and share our pride in knowing what football can do for families and communities alike. We are honoured to be able to host Adityanshu and his mother in Moscow for the opening match in Russia next summer,” said Jean-François Pathy, Director of Marketing Services at FIFA.

The second winner will be decided in the coming weeks as FIFA continues to read through the many incredible fan stories. Fans wishing to purchase tickets to the FIFA World Cup can visit FIFA.com/tickets. The initial phase of ticket sales will re-open on 16 November 2017, when tickets will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis until 28 November 2017.

(Photo courtesy: Screenshot – FIFA TV)