Malawi’s only official, active representative at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Tazizwa Kasambara left the country on Tuesday for the host nation, Russia, where he will be Malawi’s first ever World Cup official match ball carrier (OMBC).
Kasambara was the winner of the OMBC Competition, organised by motor vehicle dealers KIA HTD Limited this year.
He beat over 120 fellow high school students drawn from Blantyre and Lilongwe to land the lifetime opportunity.
The competition’s finals were held on 18 March at St Andrews Primary School in Blantyre.
Zizwa flew out to the global soccer festival through the Chileka airport, accompanied by his mother, Maggie.
He will be the official match ball carrier for the Group B match between Morocco and Iran this Friday.
Speaking before departure, the 9 year old who idolises Argentina and Barcelona superstar, Lionel Messi said it would be an honour to meet his idol and the the rest of the Morocco and Iran players.
His mother was delighted that the trip has finally come for her little football genius to realise his dream.
“He could not wait for this day to come. We believe we will have a memorable trip, where Zizwa will enjoy himself in the company of global stars and represent Malawi well,” said his mother
HTD Chief Executive Officer Harris Sidik said they are happy to fulfill their promise by sending the boy to Russia.
“When we started the competition, there were some doubters around, but today we are glad to have lived by our word. Our national team will not be among the participants so the boy will be Malawi’s ambassador at such a big event,” said Sidik.
Sidik believes that with his extraordinary soccer skills, Kasambara could follow in the footsteps of one Ukrainian boy who was a ball-carrier at the 2010 World Cup, and eventually ended up playing for English championship side Nottingham Forest.
Zizwa’s father Ralph, revealed a few days after his victory, that the kid will be enrolled into a football academy outside Malawi, to fulfill his ambitions of turning into a professional footballer.
Kasambara, who is a Grade 5 student at St Andrews Primary School, will be among 24 kids selected from different countries.
They are all on a four day trip to Russia, with each one of them assigned one game.
A ball-carrier is the boy that picks the match ball then hands it to the referee, just before the teams match onto the field for kick-off.
He is different from a ball-boy.