Bangalore: Lionel Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney may just get lucky enough to shake the hands of six young champions from Bangalore. The youngsters have been working with the NGO Dream a Dream in the city, and have been training hard after being selected to represent India in the Football for Hope festival in Brazil.
Bhaskar took a break from practising in a field in Jayanagar in south Bangalore to tell NDTV, "I'm very happy and I'm feeling very lucky to go there. My favourite player is Neymar. I'd like to take an autograph from him. I'd like to shake a hand with him. When I feel that I'm going to Brazil, in my stomach there's butterfly flying there."
Rajeshwari is one of the three girls who are part of the squad.,"My favourite player is Rooney. I am seeing in TV only. First time, I will meet him directly. I'm very happy and excited," she said.
Football for Hope was launched by FIFA in 2005. Each team has four players with two rolling substitutes -- and a match lasts for 15 minutes. The tournament will run from July 3-10 and see the participation of young people from 32 organisations from around the world.
The six budding footballers from Bangalore are from underprivileged backgrounds and were chosen from their respective schools by Dream a Dream.
Suchetha Bhat, COO of the organisation said, "At Dream a Dream, we work on developing life skills in young people who come from vulnerable backgrounds. We're especially excited for the six young people who have been chosen. They have been part of the program for a few years now and we've seen the transformation happen, we've seen how their confidence has increased. I know that this kind of opportunity is completely life changing for them."
Vinod Kumar has been coaching the young footballers as part of a training programme that included a one week residential camp. "We are doing regularly two hours practice in the morning and they are challenging themselves to improve themselves, their football lives. Really, it is a family and they are very happy to go and visit Brazil. And all the players are ready to play 100 per cent to get the trophy to India," he told NDTV.
And the young stars are not just brushing up on their undoubted football skills -- they know the event is also about reaching out.
Revanna, a proud member of the team said, "I am representing India as a young leader. I'm going there to learn and work as a mediator there, to learn so many things and meet different delegates from across the world. I'm going there to learn the skills of football and learn the culture of other world and bring back the learning to India and implement that learning in India and develop football in Bangalore in India.
"I am fan of Messi and Ronaldo because Ronaldo used to play mid-field and I am also a mid-field player. I like to meet Ronaldo and shake his hand and talk to him."