India leaves its mark behind in the shape of Rishi Tej

10-year-old Rishi Tej is one of the two kids selected as the Official Match Ball Carriers for this edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Encircled: 10-year old Rishi Tej of Karnataka is one of the two Official Match Ball Carriers (OMBC) of this edition of the World Cup from India.   -  Getty Images

Current FIFA ranking sees India placed at the 97th spot. Entry into the World Cup as a participating nation still might be a distant dream for the subcontinent, but India did make it to the Russia World Cup this year-- not as a participating nation, but through Karnataka boy Rishi Tej.

At the start of the Belgium vs Panama match on Monday, out walked the 10-year old boy leading the players onto the Fisht Stadium in Sochi. He is one of the two Official Match Ball Carriers (OMBCs) of this edition of the World Cup from India.

As an automotive partner of FIFA, Kia Motors India had created an exciting opportunity for Indian football players between the ages of 10-14 to experience the 2018 FIFA World Cup as part of the Kia OMBC program.

India captain Sunil Chhetri had conducted the trials in Gurgaon last month and had a tough time zeroing in on the two kids, who would be the country’s first OMBCs.

READ: Tamil Nadu's Nathania set to have a ball at the World Cup in Russia

As many as 1600 children participated in the programme, with 50 short-listed for the final selections.

“It was amazing to see so many talented young kids together. Such contests and then going to the World Cup will leave a huge impression on the kids. When I was younger, my father would bring DVDs of old World Cups. They were the inspiration.

“Those days one could not watch football like we can today, where one can follow almost all the leagues of the world,” he had said in a chat with Sportstar.

"The kids will be watching Brazil vs Costa Rica and Panama vs Belgium matches. “They will gain from the experience. Such events do help in giving the player that added motivation,” he added.

11-year-old Nathania John K of Tamil Nadu is due to make an appearance as the Official Match Ball Carrier for the Brazil vs Costa Rica match that is to take place at St. Petersburg this Friday.

WATCH: Meet India's official World Cup match ball carrier

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