New Delhi: Playing in the FIFA World Cup remains a distant dream but in Surya Varikuti and Rudresh Gaudnour, India will have at least a representative each on the field and off it, in the upcoming football extravaganza in Russia.
With bated breath, the two 12-year-year-olds are looking forward to the global Football For Friendship (F4F) social programme in Russia and hopes to come back with plenty of experiences and learning from the country, which is bracing up to host one of the biggest sporting events of the world.
One day, these kids want to play for top clubs in top leagues, while harbouring hopes of seeing India play in the World Cup.
While Bangalore-based Surya is a defender in his school team, Rudresh, from Pune, plays in the midfield, though the latter will be going to Moscow as a 'young journalist'.
"Though I will not be playing, I hope to gain invaluable experience from the trip. We will be meeting people from across the world -- 'young journalists', footballers, and I can learn many things from them and we hope to share our experiences," Rudresh said.
Surya also hopes to utilise the trip by learning about different cultures and people. One day, he hopes to see India play in the World Cup.
"Now, opportunities are more. I am passionate about football and aspire to play for top clubs overseas one day. I am working hard towards it, I practice every day," Surya, a Lionel Messi fan, said.
The F4F programme, supported by Gazprom and FIFA aims at developing youth football and a healthy lifestyle, as well as promoting tolerance, open-mindedness and respect for different cultures and nationalities between children from across the globe.
Surya and Rudresh could be all the F4F initiative stands for.
Surya will join young footballers from around the world in Moscow in June.
The children will be part of the 32 International Teams of Friendship and play against each other in the event. The friendly tournament aims at bringing together children from around the world and celebrate the unifying spirit of football.
Rudresh will act as the young journalist and report on all the local and global activities of the F4F programme as part of the International Children's Press Center.
He will also spread awareness on the Nine Values (friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour) of the F4F programme.
Surya and Rudresh will also participate in the Football for Friendship International Children's Forum in Russia, where the youngsters will get a chance to meet their peers from other countries, share their experiences, and discuss with famous footballers and journalists on how to promote key values of the F4F programme around the world.
The selection of the young footballer was made by All India Football Federation (AIFF), the defender fitting the criteria from a team that conceded the least number of goals.