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North East Connected

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ByDave Stopher

Jun 22, 2020
  • Oliver Whitfield won the chance to be a UEFA Europa League Official Match Ball Carrier through a Kia competition
  • Oliver was due to carry the official match ball out at the UEFA Europe League fixture between Manchester United and LASK at Old Trafford
  • Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes surprised Oliver on a video call and took questions alongside his Dad
  • The surprise call coincided with Oliver’s 11th birthday

After winning a competition run by Kia, Oliver Whitfield was due to be the Official Match Ball Carrier at the UEFA Europe League fixture between Manchester United and LASK at Old Trafford, however the on-going pandemic caused by COVID-19 has seen all European football temporarily paused until further notice. Not wanting to leave Oliver disappointed, Kia Motors UK’s Marketing Director, David Hillbert video called Oliver along with his Dad, Bryan Whitfield, for a special surprise. As Oliver is an avid Manchester United supporter Kia made it up to the youngster with a surprise video call with Man Utd midfielder, Bruno Fernandes.

From his family home in Cheshire, Oliver asked Fernandes about how he was training in lockdown and joked about scoring more than the Portuguese player’s striker teammate, Anthony Martial. Oliver celebrated his 11th birthday the day after the call, a birthday he claimed he would not forget! Coincidentally Oliver shares his birthday with Fernandes’ mother.

As well as the opportunity to talk to and quiz Fernandes, the footballer has kindly gifted Oliver and his family tickets to his next match and Oliver will get to meet Fernandes in person to receive a signed football shirt after the match. Kia have also sent Oliver UEFA Europa League merchandise, including a replica of the official match ball he would have carried onto the pitch.

As official partner of the UEFA Europa League, Kia has empowered young football fans across Europe to carry out the role of Official Match Ball Carrier through entering competitions as part of their sponsorship. Oliver’s Dad won his son the chance to be an Official Match Ball Carrier by entering the ‘Parent of the Year’ competition in The Daily Telegraph which asked parents to write in with the proudest or most memorable moment they had spent with their child regarding football. His winning entry detailed Oliver scoring the winning goal in the final match of a tournament.

David Hilbert, Marketing Director, Kia Motors (UK) Ltd. commented on the warming moment. “It was great to see Oliver’s reaction to Bruno joining the call, he was really happy and genuinely surprised, it was clear the disappointment of not being able to fulfil our competition win had left his mind immediately. This was a heart-warming moment for us at Kia, Oliver and his Dad and most certainly Bruno himself. This is the kind of activity that is needed in these difficult and unpredictable times, it raises spirits and it’s brilliant we could deliver this moment through our sponsorship of UEFA Europa League.”

Kia became an Official Partner of the UEFA Europa League in 2018 with the agreement covering three seasons and runs through to the UEFA Europa League final in 2021.