S'pore boys love time on the biggest stage

S'pore boys love time on the biggest stage
Singaporean player escorts Jovan Koh (sixth from left), Nadir Haziq Haniff and Christopher David standing in front of Colombian players Juan Cuadrado, Carlos Sanchez and Teofilo Gutierrez before the World Cup Round of 16 tie between Colombia and Uruguay on Sunday.

Holding the hand of Colombian midfielder Carlos Sanchez in the Maracana tunnel before his side's World Cup round-of-16 victory over Uruguay yesterday (in Singapore), player escort Nadir Haziq Hanif saw the softer side of the hard man nicknamed The Rock.

"I told him that I too, wore the No. 6 jersey for my school team, and that I hoped they win," the Beacon Primary School pupil, 11, told The Straits Times from Rio de Janeiro.

"He smiled and told me that he was happy that I gave his team a boost."

Nadir was at Colombia's 2-0 victory with two other Singaporean player escorts - Christopher David, eight, and Jovan Koh, 10 - after winning the McDonald's Player Escort Contest, a tie-up between The Straits Times and McDonald's under the Straits Times Appreciates Readers (Star) programme.

The programme is part of the paper's ongoing effort to reach out to readers and the community.

At the match, Nadir bagged a souvenir when he exchanged his Singapore flag pin with a Fifa volunteer for two pins - one bearing the Brazil flag and the other of Fuleco, the official mascot of the tournament.

In front of Nadir was Christopher, who also shared a light-hearted moment with Colombian striker Teofilo Gutierrez, the player he was assigned to.

"We both used our hands to mimic a telephone, placed it near our ears and acted as if we were friends talking over the phone," said the St Joseph's Institution Junior pupil.

Jovan too, made a new friend in Colombian midfielder Juan Cuadrado.

"I first asked him if he spoke English, to which he said yes," said the Gongshang Primary pupil.

"He asked me for my name and where I came from, and I told him I wanted Colombia to win."

Although the exchanges between the players and escorts were fleeting, the trio are sure never to forget their day.

"It was an experience that was breath-taking and amazing as there were 73,804 fans making a lot of noise in such a large stadium." said Jovan, who excitedly repeated the exact crowd figure.

Added Nadir: "The atmosphere was electrifying, walking out with the players onto the Maracana pitch with so many fans there.

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can't get in Singapore, and I'm happy I got to experience it."


This article was first published on June 30, 2014.
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