FEW would have known that a colourful card game featuring Japanese cartoon characters could have such exotic rewards.
But that’s exactly what is coming the way of 11-year-old Zoe Kennington and her family after the schoolgirl earned a place in the world championships for Pokémon – winning an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii in the process.
Zoe, who lives in Linlithgow, West Lothian, won the UK heat of the Pokémon Trading Card Game Championship last weekend, which also saw her receive a trophy and a special pack of Pokémon cards.
She is now one of six UK finalists who will battle against the planet’s best at the Hilton hotel in the tropical state next month.
Zoe will compete over three days with players from all over the world in a bid to be crowned the Pokémon Trading Card Game world champion.
The primary six pupil at Low Port Primary in Linlithgow, who also entered the competition last year, said the prize trip to Hawaii was “awesome”.
She added: “I was really happy when I found out I had won. I didn’t expect it to happen.
“At least I will be able to get away from the rain here. I’m not expecting to win but just going to Hawaii is brilliant.”
Zoe, who is a member of the Pokémon club in Cumbernauld, will be joined on the trip to Hawaii by mum Sarah, 44, dad Nigel, 38, and younger brother Frankie, eight.
Mr Kennington, a lecturer in video game development at Edinburgh’s Telford College, said: “Zoe’s a big fan of Pokémon and she really enjoys playing the Pokémon cards. The first thing she got into was the video game on the DS, then the cartoon on telly, and then there was the card game as well.
“You play for points over the year by taking part in local tournaments. She played in them and won the regional one.”
Zoe competed against around 40 other children in the juniors category of the UK heat in Kettering last weekend, with the competition getting under way at around 10.30am and finishing at 11pm.
Mr Kennington added: “At the time, she was more impressed with the box of cards that she won than the trip to Hawaii, but she’s quite excited now.
“We honestly did not consider the possibility that she would win – we were ecstatic.
“She takes everything like this in her stride, which is one of the reasons why she’s quite good at the card game.”
The family plan to spend ten days in Hawaii and will leave West Lothian on August 3.
A spokeswoman for the competition said: “These skilled players will now take up their places in the most prestigious Pokémon event of the year.”
Card game phenomenon explained
THE Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG), one of the best-selling collectable trading card games of all time, is a strategy game that enables players to play out their own Pokémon battles.
It was launched in 1996 in Japan, with the English-language product released in 1998.
The game is expanded four times a year and nearly 15 billion cards have been produced.
The Pokémon TCG promotes social interaction and good sportsmanship, and it provides opportunities for players to make friends.
Pokémon TCG leagues can be found in more than 30 countries, including Japan, America, nations in the European Union and others, creating a strong community of fans, boasting that there’s always someone, somewhere, available to play or trade.