Life at Electronics Arts is far from ordinary. With our recent FIFA World Cup™ update for FIFA 18, EA gave one lucky employee from Australia tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Watching his national team take part in football’s greatest tournament inspired Chris to book a Futsal pitch -- resulting in unexpected turns and new life-long friendships.
During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, football fans from around the globe descended upon Russia to support their countries campaigns to win football's most prestigious trophy. One of those dedicated fans was Chris Bowden, EA Australia’s Middle East and Africa Marketing and Communications Manager who, made the 6,200 mile journey from Australia to Russia along with a group of friends.
’There’s really no better way to celebrate The Worlds Game than by being there in person, immersing yourself completely in the atmosphere and spirit of the tournament’ said Chris.
Having watched Australia play France and Denmark, Chris asked EA Assistant Producer Alex Gavrish to book a Futsal pitch for a kick around a few days ahead of the Australia Peru match at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.
In-game screen of the Fisht Stadium, Sochi.
Alex (who is fluent in Russian), booked them a pitch at The Ground of the Sochi Amateur Football League. After discovering a group of Australian fans were booking one of their pitches, the ground’s management team wanted to make their visit truly memorable .
When enquiring about pitch fees, the ground’s management explained to Alex that no costs would be involved as Chris and the others were travelling football fans, and in the true spirit of the World Cup, they wanted them to enjoy Sochi.
In true spirit of the beautiful game, Chris swapped his football Jersey with a Peruvian fan.
‘The ground’s management also asked if we wanted to take part in a friendly against some local Russian fans. A super nice gesture which we naturally agreed too, but it got even better’ said Chris.
Upon agreeing, the ground’s management contacted every team that’s part of the Sochi Amateur Football League, offering them the opportunity to represent their country. FC Monarh SDFL put forward a successful bid and won due to their English skills and Fair Play record throughout the season.
Once FC Monarh SDFL SDL were announced as taking on the aptly named ‘Australia Fans’, official artwork was created for what was now being billed as an international friendly. A live stream was also set up so the families of Chris and his fellow team-mates, could watch the match in full back in Australia. But that wasn’t all.
Chris and his Russian host (right) who ferried team Australia Fans around Sochi.
‘On match day we were picked up by four cars and I quickly learned from our host that the ten players from ‘FC Monarh SDFL’ had all taken the day off work to participate. Then when we arrived at the venue there was an official referee in full kit, who had also taken the day off work just to have the honour of refereeing in this friendly match, as well as the local police to ensure the smooth sailing of our international’ stated Chris.
Firm friends: FC Monarh SDFL and Australia Fans.
After national anthems were played an epic, exciting, fast paced game with great sporting spirits was kicked off. Both sides did their nations proud and as the whistle was blown at full-time, the final score was FC Monarh SDFL - 7, Australia Fans - 7.
The trophy that was gifted to Australia Fans by FC Monarh SDFL.
During the post-match ceremony all members of Australia Fans where presented with medals, a trophy, and a gift of a giant bottle of Russian vodka and in true sporting spirit, Chris and his squad took FC Monarh SDFL for a meal in a local restaurant.
After hours of celebrations and eating traditional Black Sea dishes like Horse Mackerel, Chris went to settle the bill, only to find out his Russian hosts had already paid.
Chris said that ‘The generosity we experienced is just one shining example of the amazing hospitality we received from the Russian people, which I’d love to be able to repay someday. I’ve really feel that I’ve made life-long friends’ and that ‘I’m fortunate enough to work for such a fantastic company. Electronic Arts provided me with tickets to the World Cup and it’s these benefits that continually remind me of why this is such a great place to work.’
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