Lionel Messi makes young Murtaza’s dream come true in Qatar

When Murtaza Ahmady stepped off the plane at Hamad International Airport following his journey from Afghanistan, the six-year-old boy asked his father Mohammed a single question: ‘Where is the house of Messi?’


The football-crazy youngster had made the special journey to Qatar to meet his FC Barcelona hero. Images of him wearing a plastic bag of Argentinian national colours with Messi written on the back had gone viral on social media earlier this year. Subsequently, the ‘Albiceleste’ (white and sky blue) superstar had sent young Murtaza a signed jersey and football, and promised to meet him in person when the chance arose.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) was inspired by the story of the small boy and his dream, and decided to try and find him to give him the chance of meeting his hero.


On 13 December, that day arrived. Murtaza finally got the chance to hold his hero’s hand and got a giant hug from Messi on the morning of the ‘Match of Champions’ game between Barcelona and Al Ahli on Tuesday. As the Barcelona players walked past him on the way to a meeting room at the team hotel, Murtaza spotted Messi and reached out a hand, which the Argentina superstar held with a big smile.

A few moments later, Murtaza received a large embrace from his hero, who held him in his arms as the Barcelona team gathered behind him.


Speaking with, Murtaza said after his meeting with Messi: “I’m very happy to have met my hero. It is a dream for me. I can’t wait to see Messi at the game, it will be the first time for me in the stadium.”

On Tuesday evening, Murtaza was selected as one of the player escorts to walk out onto the pitch with his idol, providing another memory of a lifetime for him on his trip to Doha.

An SC spokesperson said: “It was inspirational to meet Murtaza, and see him fulfil his dream. We were all kids once and had dreams, and in Qatar many of us still have them.

“Murtaza’s dream was to meet his hero. We are in a fortunate position here that we were able to bring them together. It’s about a kid and his dream. That’s it. That pretty much sums up the power of football.

“We were struck by his story from the beginning, and are delighted that we made the meeting happen. The story is symbolic of our belief that football can change lives for the better, and inspire youngsters from across our region and beyond.”

Turkey sends young Afghan Messi fan a ‘peace ball’


Turkey has sent a “Peace Ball” gift pack to Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi, after a photo of him wearing a replica shirt of Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi made from a plastic bag went viral.

The campaign by Fırat University’s Prof. Sebahattin Devecioğlu, coordinator of the “Peace Ball Project,” reportedly delighted five-year-old Ahmadi, whose photos sparked a social media campaign, even catching the attention of Messi himself, who met the young boy and sent him a signed shirt. Ahmadi, living in the eastern Afghan province of Gazni, received his surprise present from the “Peace Ball Project” through a teacher serving within the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency.

Devecioğlu called on others to take part in the campaign, adding, “The present was aimed at encouraging Ahmadi to play football and participate in sports.”

Project to promote ‘peace and fraternity’

“The main aim of the Peace Ball Project is to emphasize that sports are a common value for all humanity, regardless of race, religion and language. Thus, it seeks to promote peace, friendship and fraternity,” Devecioğlu said. The project also recalled the status of the child as recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 31 on leisure, play and culture states: Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.

Article 32 on child labor states: The government should protect children from work that is dangerous or might harm their health or their education. While the convention protects children from harmful and exploitative work, there is nothing in it that prohibits parents from expecting their children to help out at home in ways that are safe and appropriate to their age. If children help out in a family farm or business, the tasks they do [must] be safe and suited to their level of development and comply with national labor laws.


Children’s work should not jeopardize any of their other rights, including the right to education, or the right to relaxation and play.


KABUL – Doğan News Agency