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

India’s first Official Match Ball Carriers by Kia Motors at 2018 FIFA World Cup

Kia Motors India selects kids as Official Match Ball Carriers for 2018 FIFA World Cup (Photo courtesy: Kia Motors India)

Passion and hard work make dreams come true, and that is what happened in June 2018 when two young passionate Indian kids – Rishitej (June 18) and Nathania (June 22) – made the nation proud at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as India’s first Official Match Ball Carriers. Let’s take a look at how it all began.

To keep the process transparent and to give an equal opportunity to people staying in remotest part of the country, a Digital campaign was conducted by Kia Motors, encouraging guardians of kids from the ages of 10-14 to participate by uploading their child’s football skills’ video online. What followed was over 1,600 enthusiastic kids and their parents recognizing this unique opportunity and jumping at it.

The selection process saw a shortlist of 50 aspirants out of the 1,600 participants called to Gurgaon for the audition stage. These 50 kids underwent multiple rigorous tests that put their technical ability, dribbling, shooting, penalties, and even personality traits to the test.

Who better to judge their skills than the second-highest active goalscorer in the world, the Indian National Football team captain Sunil Chhetri?

The inspiring messages given to them by Chhetri will live long in the memories of all kids. However, it got extra special for two of the kids very soon as Sunil Chhetri announced their names to thunderous applause. 11-year-old Nathania John K., the only female contestant who made it to the final round, finished top of the pile to book her ticket to Russia. Playing football since the tender age of 3, Nathania labeled meeting and showcasing her skills to Chhetri ‘a dream come true’.

The second name to be selected was Rishitej, a 10-year-old from Bangalore, who was the match ball carrier on June 18 at the Belgium vs Panama match. He idolizes Messi, Salah, Ibrahimovic, Griezmann, Xavi, and Dybala. However, meeting Chhetri is the biggest highlight of his nascent football career.

Apart from these two, 4 other boys also traveled to Russia to enjoy the World Cup live from the stadiums along with their guardians.

It is an invaluable experience for these football aspirants. Getting a feel of the World Cup in Russia will only increase their desire to one day represent India on the pitch as players and achieve yet another first. Kia Motors has beautifully portrayed the desire and dream of the young guns in this wonderful music video. Here’s to hoping and bringing that dream alive soon!

(Kia Motors)