Bangalore boy's Mumbai magic

Sachith Reddy won the India FIFA Interactive World Cup 2008 qualifier and booked his place at May's Grand Final in Berlin after defeating Sidhartha Mandanna with a performance worthy of a champion in the final match at National College, Bandra, Mumbai today.

The day after celebrating the 59th Republic day in a city renowned for producing cricketing and Bollywood stars, India unearthed a new star in the virtual football world.

Fourteen-year-old Sachith from Bangalore was the winner in the Bangalore pre-qualifier two weeks ago and made sure his trip to Mumbai was worthwhile. Having only started playing FIFA08 on PlayStation®3 one month ago, Sachith is clearly a natural and possesses an exceptional hand - eye coordination. He will no doubt provide stiff competition at the Grand Final in May.

When asked what he thought his chances were at winning the Grand Final, Sachith replied: "I am very excited about going to Berlin to represent India at the final and think I will be very nervous but if I keep practicing over the next few months, I will have a good chance of doing well."

With over 500 participants taking part in the pre qualifiers in Delhi and Bangalore, the winners and runners up from these pre qualifiers were flown to Mumbai to join the other four finalists from the Mumbai pre qualifier in the last eight at the National final. With all players sharing a common goal of wanting to win the chance in a lifetime opportunity to represent India at the Grand Final in Berlin, the standard of virtual football on show was extremely high.

Pro-gamer Reuben Pereira, known by his friends as 'King of FIFA' had recently represented India at the World Cyber Games and was very keen to be India's representative in the FIWC08. Unfortunately Ruben will have to turn his attention to qualifying via the online qualification after being knocked out in a one-sided semi final by Sidhartha Mandanna.

Another player determined to qualify was 20-year-old student, Rahul Samat. Rahul paid for his own flight from his home town Hyberabad in South India to compete in the Mumbai pre qualifiers after being knocked out in the semi-finals at the Bangalore pre qualifier.

Rahul was unable to progress passed the quarter finals, but is so committed to qualifying for the Grand Final that he has set himself the target of getting 100 points a day in the online qualification from now until the cut off point on 31 March.

With 15 more live qualifiers to take place over the coming months and the online qualification still running, there are plenty of opportunities for you to take part in the FIWC08. To find out where the nearest live qualifier is to you or how to register to compete online, simply go to http://www.fifa.com/interactiveworldcup/index.html.