The FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 will be a tournament that lives long in the memories of a large number of Brazilian children as a result of FIFA’s Youth Programme.
At today’s daily media briefing at the Maracana, four of the lucky children who have taken part in the programme in the first week of the tournament joined Ralph Straus, FIFA’s Head of Strategy and Brand Management, in order to share their experiences.
Beatriz Santos Garrido, 15 years old, a player in Vasco’s U-17 women’s team was one of the children who was selected to be a member of the ball crew at the Spain-Tahiti match as part of the Copa Coca-Cola programme. “We received perfect training in preparation of the match where we were informed how we should behave, how we shouldn’t talk to the players and how it’s important to provide a good service for both teams – even if we were supporting Spain!” she joked. “The only frustrating thing was I wanted to work more. Spain were so good at keeping the ball that it rarely went off the pitch!”
Rafael Vieira Moura’s role was carrying the FIFA flag onto the pitch at the first FIFA Confederations Cup match to be held in the Maracana; Italy-Mexico. The 17-year-old was recruited as part of Sony’s extensive promotions building up to the tournament. When asked about his favourite moment there is no hesitation “The feeling of walking out onto the pitch with the sound of over 70,000 fans at the Maracana was incredible. I had goosebumps!”
And last but not least came the stories from the children who get as close to the players as is physically possible, holding their hands as they walk onto the pitch. McDonald’s Player Escorts programme gives kids aged 6-10 the chance to accompany the players onto the pitch and see up close the players in their final minutes of preparation.
“When I heard about McDonald’s drawing competition I really wanted to win” said 10-year-old Lohan Teixeira Ladeia, “I drew a picture of me giving my hand to a player with a crowd in the back all in Brazil’s colours of yellow, green and blue”.
Lohan’s joy was echoed by his 10 year old friend Gabrielly Lourenco Sebastião, who also won the competition and held Italian midfield legend Andrea Pirlo’s hand as he walked onto the pitch at the Mexico v Italy game. “Pirlo held my hand but he didn’t talk to me as he was fully concentrated on the match.”
But the final word goes to Lohan “Walking onto the pitch with the players was a dream come true, and so far in my life this is the only time that one of my dream’s has come true.”