YOUNG INDIAN PARTICIPATING IN FOOTBALL FOR FRIENDSHIP GAMES IN MOSCOW WRITES ABOUT THE OPENING MATCH BETWEEN RUSSIA AND SAUDI ARABIA

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Hi,

I am Rudresh Gaudnour from Pune. I am 12-years-old and play football with my team Kothrud Wolves, as part of the Just For Kicks program at my school, Pandit Dindayal. I am representing India as a Young Journalist in Moscow at the FIFA Gazprom Football For Friendship social program organized for over 211 countries.

As part of this program, I attended the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony and watched the first game between Russia and Saudi Arabia. I have been in Moscow for 7 days but have not been as excited as I was today! Entering the Luzhniki stadium itself was great and watching Robbie Williams perform, Russian artists cover the ground with their bright outfits and props and finally, the kick-off of the game was all a dream come true.

What followed were the most amazing 90 minutes packed with exciting football that was better than any game I have played or watched on TV. Both the teams were good but Russia really outdid Saudi Arabia beating them 5-0! The fifth goal was even scored in the last minute of extra time! The stadium was full of football-crazed fans and every goal scored and every missed opportunity made everyone jump out of their seats. I have never been part of a Mexican wave of such magnitude before and doing it alongside 78,000 people, was brilliant!

I was supporting Russia throughout the game but the one thing that the Saudi Arabia team taught me was to not give up. They kept giving the game a 100% until the last whistle was blown. This was one of the most special days of my life and I don’t think I will ever forget it.

If not in person, I hope to watch India qualify and play at the next world cup in 2022 and when I will be old enough, I can’t wait to play for my country. I truly believe that sport can change the world and that football is one sport that can drive this change. But I think this is only possible with the love and support of fellow countrymen, as I witnessed today and hopefully someday we will see such united support in India as well.