Kia, the Official Partner of FIFA World Cup 2018, lent its support to aspiring young footballers and fans alike to be a step closer to achieving their dreams through the Kia ‘Champ Into The Arena’ futsal tournament and Kia Official Match Ball Carrier competition in Malaysia.
The Malaysia leg of the Official Match Ball Carrier competition was held recently, in late April, at the Kuala Lumpur Football Association (KLFA) for children aged 10 to 14. 14-year-old Adam Riezman succeeded in taking the “Official Match Ball Carrier” title to represent Malaysia as one of 64 children from around the world who will get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the match ball onto the pitch during FIFA World Cup 2018.
Adam, who is a Team Portugal supporter and an avid fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, hopes to see his favourite team and player in action at the World Cup matches in Russia. “I am thankful to my parents for supporting my ambition and passion for football since I was 9. I can’t wait for this trip to Russia where I will get to meet football fans alike who share the same love for football. Thank you also to Naza Kia Malaysia for giving me this opportunity to represent Malaysia as their Kia Official Match Ball Carrier,” said Adam.
The Kia Official Match Ball Carrier competition is held in various countries worldwide to search for young football fans and the Malaysian leg saw more than 200 participants from all corners of Malaysia gather at the KLFA Sport Centre Kuala Lumpur to show off their abilities and vie for the coveted spot. Participants were tested on several areas such as agility, skill, attitude and teamwork.
Dato’ Samson Anand George, Group CEO, Automotive Group, Naza Corporation Holdings said, “Through these competitions, Kia seeks to build bonds with potential customers and fans of these events and give them a chance to connect with the brand in a more personal and meaningful manner by nurturing young football talent.”
About 170 teams who took part in the Kia ‘Champ Into The Arena’ 2018 tournament went through a vigorous competition, where qualifying rounds were held from 31 March to 21 April 2018 in Penang, Terengganu, Johor and Selangor. Only the top four teams from each region could progress to the Malaysian Grand Finals which took place at KLFA Sport Centre in Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur in late April.
The aim of the ‘Champ Into The Arena’ futsal tournament is to search for a talented futsal team that will represent Malaysia to compete on the world stage. This is the fourth time Naza Kia Malaysia organised this futsal tournament in conjunction with the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2018; the first was in 2010.
Team TOT United, from Kuala Lumpur emerged champion and earned the right to represent Malaysia in the international Kia ‘Champ Into The Arena’ World Finals in Russia. The competition will run concurrently with FIFA World Cup 2018 from 15 June to 15 July in Russia.
“My team and I are ecstatic and proud to be representing Malaysia at the international Kia Champ Into the Arena World Finals in Russia! Our team was only formed during the qualifying round in Penang. To prepare for the final few matches, we had to undergo intensive training for a short period of time and I am so glad that the blood, sweat and tears we shed paid off,” said senior TOT United team member, Hazizi bin Mansor.
Hazizi, 25, is no stranger to the international stage as his previous team also emerged as victors for the Malaysian Kia ‘Champ In The Arena’ tournament in 2014 and represented Malaysia that year in Brazil.
The winning team, TOT United comprising six players aged 23 to 26, will fly to Russia on an all-expenses paid trip inclusive of a tour, RM5,000 cash prize and exclusive tickets to watch one of the World Cup Final Match live.
Kia ‘Champ Into The Arena’ is more than just a futsal tournament as it is a way of Naza Kia Malaysia giving back to the public and customers for their loyalty and support. Apart from the futsal tournament, there were a variety of activities such as an exhibition match and a photo booth station, and the chance to test drive and have a feel of the Kia’s product line-up that were on display.