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How this Juventus fan played beach soccer with Del Piero

FIFA Fan Movement member Mario Sonatha holds up an Indonesia scarf
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  • Mario Sonatha is a member of the FIFA Fan Movement from Indonesia
  • His passion for Juventus led to him meeting Alessandro Del Piero
  • Learn about the Fan Movement and join the conversation with #WeLiveFootball

It was a little over 25 years ago when Mario Sonatha was first introduced to football, and he's been a passionate supporter of the beautiful game ever since.

"I got to know football from a junior high school friend," Sonatha, a member of the FIFA Fan Movement, told FIFA.com. "He introduced me to the sport in 1994. The first matches I remember seeing on TV were from the FIFA World Cup that year, which was in the USA."

Living in Jakarta, Indonesia, the time difference made following those matches in the US a real challenge. But the spirit for football in Sonatha's home country was more than enough to offset such difficulties.

“There are many football fans in Indonesia," he said. "We’re fanatics, even though our national team may not be the strongest. Everything about football here is crazy.

"When that World Cup rolled around, the visibility of it in Indonesia was very high – everyone was excited for it. So I watched it and I loved it immediately.”

An inspiring community of football fans from all over the world, the FIFA Fan Movement officially launched at the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia?, which was when Sonatha joined. He now contributes to football conversations through his own social media channels and lends his perspective while featuring in FIFA content.

"For me, it’s really interesting to know another side of the world," he said. "I’ve come away so impressed with all the other members. They’re all so creative. It’s been such an amazing experience."

After USA 1994, Sonatha was hooked on the sport. That same year he watched his first Serie A match: Juventus versus Parma. Seeing Bianconeri legends like Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero play for the first time was transformational. Fast-forward to 2019, and he's going on two-and-a-half decades as a supporter of the 'Old Lady' of Italian football.

Living over 11,000km from Turin hasn't stopped Sonatha from seeing his beloved Juventus live, whether it be on a pre-season tour of Indonesia or even at a home match. He's also met a few Juve players on his travels, including centre-back Giorgio Chiellini. But one of his most memorable encounters brought him toe-to-toe with a childhood idol.

The UEFA Champions League trophy was on tour, which included stops in Jakarta and Bali. The tour featured a competitive quiz for fans, with the winners receiving the opportunity to meet and play beach soccer with Alessandro Del Piero.

"Maybe I'm just really lucky, but I won the competition and got the chance of a lifetime," said Sonatha. "It was amazing; like a dream come true. He's a very fun guy, too. I went in thinking he'd be serious, but when we played together he was so fun. And his skill level was amazing, of course."

FIFA Fan Movement member Mario Sonatha plays beach soccer with Alessandro Del Piero
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Joining the Fan Movement has helped Sonatha connect with people who share his passion for football across the globe.

"This year I went to Japan for a holiday, and so I contacted Marika, a Fan Movement member from Japan," he said. "We met up and watched a game together in Tokyo.

“Everyone says that football unites the world, right? We didn’t know each other before, but through football we could communicate, have a chit-chat and become friends.”

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