The Jakarta Post
Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo had 'fallen in love' with mangroves.
At a campaign event on Wednesday to save mangrove forests, Zulkifli explained why the world famous soccer player loved the mangroves.
'It's related to the Aceh tsunami and Martunis, a boy who was dragged away by the tsunami waves but who managed to survive after getting caught on mangroves,' said Zulkifli as quoted by Antara news agency.
The images of Martunis, an elementary school student who was buffeted for 19 days in waters surrounding a mangrove forest went viral on social media sites.
Martunis was wearing a soccer shirt emblazoned with the name of his hero, Ronaldo, who plays for Spanish soccer club Real Madrid.
'It was because of that incident that Ronaldo now feels so close with Martunis and the mangroves,' said Zulkifli.
Ronaldo previously went out of his way to meet Martunis in Aceh and offered him a scholarship. 'He was also given a handphone by Ronaldo, but he has since lost it,' the minister said.
Martunis, who is now a teenager and loves playing soccer, was invited to attend the mangrove-planting event entitled Save the Mangroves, Save the Earth, which was attended by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Ronaldo.
'Here you are, Martunis. Come on in, shake hands with Bapak President and Ronaldo,' Zulkifli said when welcoming Martunis to the event.
After introducing Martunis to the President and his soccer hero, Zulkifli went on to present a Mangrove Bali Ambassador certificate to Ronaldo.
In his short remarks after the ceremony, Ronaldo said that when national entrepreneur Tomy Winata had asked him to become the Mangrove Bali Ambassador, he was immediately interested.
'Thank you Mr. President. I am very happy to be in Indonesia. I hope my role in Bali can strengthen the message to save mangroves," Ronaldo said. (ebf)
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