10-year-old Nathania John K from the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu will lead Neymar’s Brazil on to the field as the Official Match Ball Carrier (OMBC) in their Group E game against Costa Rica at Arena St Petersburg on Friday.
Times of India reported that Nathania who aspires to become a football player one day, will be flying to Russia on Thursday to fulfill her duties as an OMBC and also in the hope to meet her favorite footballer Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini. Nathania along with Rishi Tej from Karnataka got an opportunity to go to the World Cup when FIFA’s official partner KIA chose them in a contest which tested their football skills. Nathania was the only girl to make it to the top 50. “I play as a center forward for my senior school team and have been going to several camps in Coimbatore to hone my skills for the last two years. So I was at ease when they asked me to show my dribbling, juggling and penalty shooting skills. I have seen that girls don’t play much football in India. So I hope that my selection opens the window for young girls to take up football and break all stereotypes,” she said to TOI.
Nathania is a big fan of Messi and has 17 scrapbooks filled with pictures of the Argentine legend. “I was sad when Neymar left Barcelona. But now that I will get a chance to meet him, the pain has eased a bit. I am planning to take his autograph along with Barcelona’s latest sensation Coutinho and all others. Also Messi will be travelling to Saint Petersburg for their last game. So I am not giving up hope on a chance meeting with him. If I do meet him, it will be an icing on the cake,” said Nathania to TOI.