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Nike expecting three million kids to participate in Joga3 Futsal tournaments

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MUMBAI: With the kickoff to the Fifa World cup taking place in less than a month's time, footwear manufacturer Nike says that it expects its grassroots initiative Joga3 to attract more than three million kids from 39 countries by the end of this summer. This will equal to the number of spectators anticipated at soccer’s world championships in Germany this June and July.

Nike Joga3 is a three-on-three soccer game inspired by the game of futsal, both of which are played with the smaller, heavier futsal ball on a small, hard-surface field. The smaller ball and field elevate the importance of foot skills, ball control, creativity and quickness.

Joga3 matches are played on a pitch that is no larger then half a basketball court. The goals are not protected by a goalkeeper and are only five feet wide by 19 inches high. Games last three minutes and there are no ties.

As of 1 April 2006, Nike estimates that one million kids globally have played Joga3. Regional tournaments are increasing in size and frequency, building toward the global final that will take place in Brazil in August.

The US final is scheduled for Los Angeles on 9 July. Local and regional market tournaments are currently taking place every week from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles. The tournaments are free and open to boys and girls 19 years and under. In addition to digital and grassroots outreach to spread the Joga3 message, more than 100,000 kits that teach Joga3 have been distributed through soccer specialty retailers throughout the US.

Kids who participate in Joga3 are expected to play by a code of conduct that includes Skill, Heart, Joy, Honour and Team. The new game and the global tournament are part of the Nike soccer initiative, Joga Bonito (Portuguese for “Play Beautiful”), which is designed to inspire this same code of conduct across all levels of the game of soccer and among all players.

Nike Soccer global general manager Don Remlinger says, “Much the way the game of futsal has helped hone the foot skills of some of the world’s most talented players like Brazil’s Ronaldinho, Nike designed Joga3 to inspire quickness, speed, creativity, and commanding ball control. Most important though is ensuring that kids learn to play by the code and that they carry these characteristics forward.”

Nike introduced Joga Bonito to the world in early February through a digital and broadcast television message from soccer legend Eric Cantona that reached more than 38 million people in its first weekend, 10-12 February 2006.

As had been reported earlier by Indiantelevision.com Nike has made five television commercials featuring famous football players.

This is a part of Nike's Joga Bonito (Play Beautiful) campaign. Joy, Team, Honour, Skill and Heart are the values of Beautiful football and the themes of the commercials, which are introduced by Eric Cantona from the studios of JogaTV - the TV station created to spread the Joga Bonito message. Speaking to Indiantelevision.com a Nike spokesperson that the TVCs will air on channels like Ten Sports.

The spokesperson adds that on the product front, Nike India has just launched the lightest (200 gms) ever football boot. "The Mercurial Vapor IIII is Nike's most advanced football
boot ever, while the innovative Vapor System provides the highest level of technical innovation, speed and comfort for today's fastest football player" the spokesperson adds.

For the uninitiated in March, Nike had introduced Joga.com, a social network dedicated to people around the world who share a passion for the joy and beauty of soccer. Joga.com enables users to create profiles, pick their favorite players, post their own photos and videos and form global social networks to share, debate and celebrate the heart and soul of soccer. Currently, a new member joins Joga.com every eight seconds.

In the US, Nike also introduced JogaTV, a new internet TV channel that gives soccer fans a front row seat to exclusive video featuring some of the game's greatest players. Through technology created by Maven Networks, soccer enthusiasts can download a JogaTV icon, which lives on a desktop for easy access. Each week, Nike delivers Joga Bonito content and automatically updates JogaTV directly on the user’s desktop.

As far as India is concerned when asked as to whether Nike is looking to use any celebrities to push its products the spokesperson notes that Nike has an association with athletes across the globe. In India, the Nike athletes include Baichung Bhutia, Mahesh Bhupati and Anju Bobby George. "Our athletes obviously wear and endorse our products. All our marketing campaigns are global and hence it is the same campaigns that are executed in India as well."

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