India vs Oman: Meet the child mascots who dare to dream big
These kids were previously selected for All India Football Federation's (AIFF) ambitious Golden Baby League project.
Ten year-old Mariana is little upset for not being able to escort Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri when the Blue Tigers took on Oman in their first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Guwahati on September 5.
Mariana was one of the 25 kids of Assam's first-ever structured youth league 'Greater Guwahati Baby League' (GGBL) that escorted the players to the field.
She had to escort an assistant referee instead. But it’s a memorable and probably the most exciting day for Mariana who dreams to don the India jersey someday.
“Wow! It was a wonderful experience and I was so excited. I will always remember it. I love football,” Mariana told The Bridge after the match which India lost Oman by 2-1.
Though Cristiano Ronaldo tops her list of favourites, she would have been much happier if she got to accompany the Indian captain. “Sunil Chhetri is my second favourite footballer, after Ronaldo. I also want to play for India someday. I believe that I can do that,” Mariana, who practices with her father every morning, said.
"These kids, who were the stars of GGBL first season organised by Guwahati City FC (GCFC) and Sportscraft Management, were given the opportunity to have a first hand experience of an international football match and get inspired from present stars so that they can become future torch bearers of Indian Football," said the baby league operator and GCFC Co-founder Kaustab Chakraborty.
These kids have previously represented All India Football Federation's (AIFF) ambitious Golden Baby League project in a match to highlight the importance of the concept in the rise of Indian Football.
The parents of these kids were also excited and said that it has boosted up their motivation. Biswajit Dey who’s seven-year old son Vivek accompanied the India captain, is determined to help his son reach the highest level of playing football.
“I want to realize my dream through my kid. I will try my best to do that. Yesterday’s experience was awesome. I think it has definitely uplifted the boost of not only Vivek but all the kids that were part of the match,” Dey told The Bridge.
Dey said that Vivek was very excited since the match and he was even felicitated at his school for being part of the match.
Baby league operator Chakraborty thanked I-League CEO Sunando Dhar and AIFF Baby League Manager Deepak John Nayak for giving the opportunity to these kids.