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11-year old Indian girl to share the tunnel with Neymar and Coutinho in Russia

11-year old Indian girl to share the tunnel with Neymar and Coutinho in Russia

Sounak Mullick

Published: 17 Jun 2018 9:52 AM GMT
India will indeed be a part of the World Cup as two aspiring footballers will share the tunnel with the best footballers during the ongoing tournament. Nathania John K who is aged 11 and hailing from Kotagiri will be the Official Match Ball Carrier (OMBC) when Brazil faces Costa Rica at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 22. This is the first time that India will be sending two OMBC’s, the other is the 10-year-old Karnataka boy Rishi Tej. Nathania was very excited about his opportunity to share the tunnel with stars like Neymar and Coutinho. “I am extremely happy and proud to be representing India and the girls of this country. I am excited to be there for the game where I will be in the tunnel along with such famous players like Coutinho and Neymar. This is a dream come true for any football fan. I will be walking out with them to the middle of the pitch. I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Nathania. A Messi fanatic, she has paper cut-outs of the maestro and is also very skilful like her idol. Her parents uploaded a 30-second video which showcased her skills and sent it to the organisers. Nathania was shortlisted for the trials in New Delhi and subsequently selected as one of the 64 school children from around the world and second from India out of 1600 other entrants. "I am extremely happy and am very proud of her. She has shown an inclination towards football from a very young age. She used to play with her cousins and the neighbourhood boys in Kotagiri. Slowly, she started to dribble very well, and we realised she was naturally good at the game,” said an overjoyed Annie Jacob, Nathania’s mother. "That was when we decided to let her completely focus on the sport, and we put her in a boarding school (Rishi Valley) at Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh. Since then she’s been completely into football. Even her teachers used to appreciate her skills. That’s how it all started,” added Annie. Nathania’s aim in life is to become a professional footballer and strive hard to make a cut to the Indian National team in the future. She admitted that her school and coaches have been of great support. Her friends back in Kotagiri also encouraged her to play football, which is not a usual scene in India.
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