Two football fans win 'once-in-a-lifetime' chance to see Messi in action

Mr Ng (far left) receiving his prizes last night from ST editor Mr Fernandez, while Samsung's Mr Lee presents Mr Sng (far right) with his prizes. The winners will fly to Spain to watch Barcelona play Real Madrid.
Mr Ng (far left) receiving his prizes last night from ST editor Mr Fernandez, while Samsung's Mr Lee presents Mr Sng (far right) with his prizes. The winners will fly to Spain to watch Barcelona play Real Madrid.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Two football fans will live the dream when they travel to Spain next week to watch Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona against rivals Real Madrid, courtesy of The Straits Times and Samsung.

"This is a once- in-a-lifetime experience for me," said Nanyang Technological University student Ng Hong Ming, 24. The Barcelona fan added that being able to watch the "El Clasico live" was "unbelievable", referring to the highly anticipated clash between the Spanish football titans.

The mechanical engineering student was one of two top winners selected in the Straits Times Appreciates Readers (Star) contest, which partnered Samsung to fly two lucky readers to the game in Barcelona - an all-expenses- paid trip sponsored by Samsung.

The contest is part of the newspaper's ongoing efforts to show its appreciation of readers by taking them to places and people they cannot access on their own, but which the newspaper can by working with its partners.

Participants were asked to describe how they would use the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear while watching the ambassador for both devices, Messi, in action.

Mr Ng's decision to submit a poem about Messi being in "top condition" turned out to be the right one. It stood out from over 900 submissions and was the unanimous choice of the 10 judges from ST's editorial team.

For the other top prize winner, Mr Mervyn Sng, 31, it will also be a great opportunity to check out the famous Gaudi buildings in the Spanish city, which are on the Unesco World Heritage site list.

The manager with a mobile services company described how he would use the Samsung gear to be a "temporary sports journalist".

Both winners will post blog entries on their experiences in Spain on The Straits Times' website.

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Mr Ng and Mr Sng join eight other lucky ST readers in winning the latest Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone and Galaxy Gear smartwatch. They received their prizes from Samsung Asia managing director Harry Lee and ST editor Warren Fernandez at last night's Star presentation ceremony at Samsung's flagship store in VivoCity.

Mr Lee said: "The lucky readers heading to Barcelona can focus on the game undisturbed, while still receiving notifications for incoming messages and calls from loved ones who want to know what it is like to be part of the real-life action."

Added Mr Fernandez: "We plan to take up the winners' idea that they use their new Note 3s to become sports journalists reporting from the field. We've told them to send us lots of pictures and tweets from what promises to be a great game ahead."

vinchang@sph.com.sg