The boy with the plastic bag Messi jersey has finally met his hero

In February, the internet fell in love with a five-year-old boy in a homemade plastic bag Lionel Messi jersey named Murtaza Ahmadi. Now, almost a year later, Ahmadi has finally met his idol.

The Argentine soccer star and the young Afghan super fan shared a warm embrace on Tuesday, in a heartwarming encounter captured on video tweeted by the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee.

Messi is seen smiling and picking up the boy, whose blue and white striped plastic shirt and gleeful expression while wearing it melted hearts online at the start of the year.

Not only did the six-year-old boy get to meet his hero, but he also got to walk out on to the pitch alongside Messi on Tuesday night, when Barcelona played Al Ahli in Dohar.

An ecstatic Ahmadi didn’t want to let go of his hero.

The young boy’s journey to meeting his idol started back in January, when a photo of him wearing the plastic shirt with Messi’s name was first spotted online by fans.

Before long, Twitter lit up with a search for for his identity. Among others, Turkish sports website Fanatik tweeted out the viral picture while wondering who the young boy was.

Ahmadi was soon identified as the boy with the plastic Messi jersey. From their farm in Jaghori, his father Arif Ahmadi told CNN how passionate the then five-year-old was about Messi and football.

“When he suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night, he starts crying that he wants to go to Messi,”

Ahmadi added that his son started asking for a jersey.

“I told him that we were living in a poor village far from the city and it was impossible for me to get him the shirt.  He kept crying for days asking for the shirt until his brother Hamayon helped him make one from the plastic bag to make him happy.”

“He stopped crying after wearing that plastic bag shirt.”

Once it was known who Ahmadi was, he gained the attention of organizations like the Afghanistan Football Federation and UNICEF, which presented him with a brand new autographed Messi jersey.

 

Syrian children use bomb crater as makeshift swimming pool

Syrian children use bomb crater as makeshift swimming pool

Life under siege: Children in Aleppo use bomb crater as swimming pool

More than 2 million people in Aleppo have no access to clean water as the conflict in the Syrian city continues to escalate, according to UNICEF. But that hasn’t stopped some children from playing around in a murky pool that has formed in a crater left behind by a missile strike.

 

UNICEF creates virtual child from photos of children in conflict

UNICEF creates virtual child from photos of children in conflict

There are currently 250 million children around the world living in countries affected by conflict, and half of the 19.5 million refugees globally are children. A new awareness campaign hopes to shine a light on them all — by focusing on one.

UNICEF Sweden has created “Sofia,” a 3D-animated child using 500 photos of real children from emergency areas. The images were provided by Getty Images, the campaign’s visual partner, and animators from the films Planet of the Apes and Avatar worked with creative agency Edelman Deportivo to bring her to life.

Per Westberg, deputy executive director of UNICEF Sweden, said in a statement.

“We have created Sofia to give a face to all the children that aren’t visible to us.  Sofia is a symbol for all the orphan children, all the children that have been forced to leave their homes due to conflicts, who have stopped growing because of lack of nutrition and who dream of going to school.”

UNICEF decided to call the child Sofia because it was reported as the “most popular” name across the world last year.

The animation released this week marks the first of three videos in the organization’s #FörSofia spring campaign, according to Swedish news outlet Resumé.

“Meet Sofia,” the video opens. “She is the children that no one sees, in the disasters no one talks about. This is her story.”

While the video runs the risk of perpetuating an idea that there is a single refugee experience, the most compelling part is when Sofia says, “I’m not real. I’m the face of all the children suffering from emergencies no one talks about.”

Then, images of refugee children and those in conflict areas populate the screen.

3D_work_in_progress

In addition to awareness, the campaign aims to inspire people to become donors to UNICEF, as “world parents.”

Westberg said:

“Sofia is representing all the children you are helping when you are a world parent, UNICEF supports the children, through long-term development projects and through acute support when disasters occur. We are distributing our efforts according to needs, and the most exposed children will get help first.”