The Flames have never been to the FIFA World Cup finals and are not among the finalists in this year’s showpiece in June but Malawi is assured of its representation at the global soccer festival.
This is because Tazizwa Kasambara will be Malawi’s official match ball carrier (OMBC) at the World Cup, a thing that has never happened before.
Kasambara won the ticket to Russia on Sunday in the KIA OMBC Competition organised by motor vehicle manufacturers KIA HTD Limited.
Son to former attorney general Ralph Kasambara, Zizwa in short, beat a pool of over 120 fellow high school students to land the KIA jackpot.
The students were drawn from Blantyre and Lilongwe with preliminary contests held in the two cities.
Sunday’s grand finale at St Andrews High School in Blantyre attracted twenty participants equally split between the two cities with the 9 year old Tazizwa proving too good for the rest.
The participants went through six challenges namely penalty taking, dribbling, pass-through, run and kick, archery and free-styling to identity the winner based on the highest number of points in total.
It was to nobody’s surprise when Tazizwa’s name was announced as the winner, after the St Andrews grade 5 student wowed the crowd with some stellar touches, so rare for his age.
Tazizwa was an absolute marvel to watch in the five a side game, at one point weaving his way through a forest of four players before scoring.
Tazizwa was over moon following the announcement and described it as an amazing moment.
“Am so happy to have won this. Practice was crucial in my victory and I think I did exceptionally well in the run and kick exercise,” he said
Looking forward to the tournament, Tazizwa who idolizes Argentina and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi said it will be awesome to meet his idol and the rest of the players.
The little football genius also disclosed that he would love to take the game as a professional career.
Tazizwa’ success comes days after his father was granted bail, having spent about two years in prison for attempted murder.
“Am so happy for him. His deep passion for soccer has been no secret at all, but we never thought it could get this far. He usually fights with his mom when it comes to balancing school and football. Barcelona and Messi seem to run around his head all the time,” said Kasambara
Kasambara revealed that the boy will be allowed to pursue a career in football as he plans to identify a suitable academy outside Malawi which will combine the game with academic studies.
HTD Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Harris Sidik was delighted to have finally found the winner who will represent Malawi at the event
“Our Flames will not be there but we have this boy as our ambassador at such a big event. In 2010 there was a boy from Ukraine as a ball carrier and today he is playing for Nottingham Forest. I believe our boy could follow a similar route and end up playing in Europe, because this exposure will increase his passion for the game,” said Sidik.
The HTD CEO then revealed he has already talked to the Malawi National Council of Sports Executive Secretary George Jana on plans to introduce an inter-schools football tournament in conjunction with the Football Association of Malawi, as he believes that schools are the feeding grounds for future sportsmen.
Three other students made the top 5 alongside Tazizwa. They are Robert Msukwa (South End High School) Jermaine Masansa (Lilongwe Academy) and Mark James (Bishop McKenzie).
Tazizwa will be among kids drawn from 24 different countries, each sending one ball carrier.
They will all be on a 4 day trip to Russia, with each of them assigned one game.