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Boy earns chance to walk alongside Messi

Thirteen year old Rohit Mallik, son of a sweeper, was on cloud nine ahead of Argentina's friendly against Venezuela in Kolkata, as it is not everyday that someone like him gets an opportunity to walk with the likes of Lionel Messi out onto the field.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2011 20:31 IST

Thirteen year old Rohit Mallik, son of a sweeper, was on cloud nine ahead of Argentina's friendly against Venezuela in Kolkata, as it is not everyday that someone like him gets an opportunity to walk with the likes of Lionel Messi out onto the field.

Hailing from Harijan Basti in Mallickbazar, Mallik has been chosen by an NGO along with three others -- Vishal Das, Rajesh Bhunia and Krishna Malik -- from a lot of 20, to walk alongside the players before the start of the much-awaited FIFA friendly between Argentina and Venezuela at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan later this evening.

"I'm on cloud nine, I've never in my dream thought of holding the hand of "God". I am not able to believe this from the moment I was told that I will be among the other children chosen to walk alongside Messi," Malik said.

A big-time football fan, who plays with street kids, Mallik followed the 2010 World Cup, and is a die-hard fan of Argentina and Brazil.

"I love football and have seen their fast styles of play on TV in the neighborhood. I have been following most of the Argentine football players. I'm so excited," he said.

It is not by fluke that Mallik, a school dropout, got the chance of his lifetime.

"Save The Children", an NGO that works for the underprivileged children of the city, carried out proper tests to gauge the children's knowledge about the sport and the teams before finalising the list.

"We have shortlisted them on merit of their knowledge for the sport. They are all underprivileged street kids and school dropouts. We provide education to them through our learning centre called "Iche Dana"," Archi Basu, project officer of the NGO said.

She said Mallik is a talented kid who is always keen to learn.

"After being dropped from the school, Mallik would help his parents do sweeping in the morning. But now he is given proper education and he is into class III now," she said.

"I know him for more than three years now. He has amazing gasping powers. I was surprised to know during the World Cup last year that he knew most of the players and could pronounce their names quite perfectly. Never did we think that one day Mallik would hold Messi's hands.

"It's really more than the feeling of being a millionaire."