FIFA: 11-Year-Old Becomes First Indian Girl to be Chosen as OMBC

Nathania and Rishi were the only two candidates selected from India to act as OMBcs in the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Published24 Jun 2018, 04:59 PM IST
2 min read

Nathania John K, an 11-year-old girl from Tamil Nadu, became the first Indian girl to be chosen as a Official Match Ball Carriers (OMBCs) in a Group E Match of the FIFA World Cup, which witnessed a clash between Selecaos and Costa Rica.

According to a report by News18, Nathania, who hails from the Nilgiris, led the Brazilian team onto the field at Arena St Petersburg.

Along with Nathania, a 10-year-old boy, Rishi Tej from Karnataka, was the only other candidate who was selected to hold the ball from India. Rishi, however, acted as an OMBc in the Belgium vs Panama Game.

Speaking to The Times of India, Nathania said:

I am still in a daze. It is very unusual for an Indian to participate in the World Cup. 
Nathania to The Times of India

A footballer herself, she plays the centre forward for her senior school team.

“So, I was at ease when they asked me (during the KIA contest) to show my dribbling, juggling and penalty shooting skills. I have seen that girls don't play much football in India,” she added.

Nathania, a student at Rishi Valley School in Chitoor, Andhra Pradesh, got the opportunity to attend the FIFA World Cup after winning a contest, along with Rishi, that was organised by one of FIFA’s sponsors- KIA, the report.

An ardent fan of Lionel Messi, Nathania told the newspaper that her greatest dream for this World Cup was to meet her idol.

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.
Nathania to The Times of India

Under the FIFA OMBC programme, about 64 schools kids from countries across the world, including Nathania and Rishi from India, will get the opportunity to lead the most popular teams onto the field and watch some of the matches.

(With inputs from Network18 and The Times of India)

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