Meet the World Cup ball boy who supports all Asian teams

I may be from Malaysia, but I have been a big fan of South Korean and Japanese football, says Brandal who is having the time of his life in Qatar



World Cup ball boy Brandel (left) with his father and brothers at the Education City Stadium.  Photo Rituraj Borkakoty .
World Cup ball boy Brandel (left) with his father and brothers at the Education City Stadium. Photo Rituraj Borkakoty .

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

Published: Tue 6 Dec 2022, 7:32 PM

Eleven years ago when his family relocated to Qatar from Malaysia, Brandel was only five and he could barely understand the intricacies of a so-called simple game called football.

Intricacies like overlapping, feints, one-twos, back heels, step-overs, dummies and, of course, the dribbles that make the game so enchantingly beautiful.

But even at such a tender age, Brandal somehow knew that to hold big football matches, you need big stadiums where a big crowd can watch the beautiful game live.

Slowly Brandel started showing an interest in the game and developed into a good enough footballer with a talent for all the game’s intricacies.

Now he plays for his school, the Park House English School, in Qatar.

And even more remarkably, Brandel is now one of the ball boys for the World Cup in Qatar, having successfully applied for the role through Fifa.

“When I first came to Qatar, there were no stadiums back then. Now they have built these amazing stadiums in just a few years’ time,” Brandel, who has got 15 matches as a ball boy for this World Cup, told this reporter.

“I think the World Cup is the greatest event in world history. And it’s a really great honour for me to be part of this event.

“It does not matter which match you go to as a ball boy, as long as you get to participate in an event like this, it means a lot. It truly is an incredible feeling.”

Apart from tossing the ball back to the players, some of who are among the biggest names in world football, during the World Cup matches in his role as a ball boy, Brandel has also gone to many of the matches with his family as a fan.

It was after South Korea’s unforgettable win over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the last round of the group stages that this reporter met Brandel at the Education City Stadium.

Brandal says his whole family backed the Asian teams at the World Cup, chanting and celebrating with the Japanese and South Korean fans after their famous wins in Qatar.

“Yes, I am from Malaysia, but I have been a big fan of South Korean and Japanese football,” he said.

“To be honest, it’s just the Asian belief, the Asian power, you know.

“I feel very lucky to be at the stadium when Japan beat Spain and South Korea beat Portugal. This means a lot to Asian football. And don’t forget Japan also beat Germany.”

While the Asian participation ended in the World Cup after Japan and South Korea were knocked out of the tournament from the round of 16, Brandal says the future is bright for Asian football.

“We support these teams because of the Asian connections, the Asian power. We have to support Asian football. The Europeans have been dominating football for so many years, I think it’s time for Asian football to rise,” he said.

“The Koreans and Japanese teams have proved that football can excel in the continent of Asia and they proved that we also have the power in football.


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