A very special ‘taonga’ will be delivered to Waitangi at sunrise on Monday 5 May. In the hands of the player named Oceania’s Footballer of the Century, Wynton Rufer, the FIFA U-20 World Cup Winner’s Trophy will arrive at the sacred Waitangi Treaty grounds via a 30-paddler waka moving across the bay at dawn.
Awaiting the arrival of the trophy amongst distinguished guests will be ambassadors of the tournament such as internationals Andy Boyens and Mike McGarry as well as several of the young men who will potentially be playing for New Zealand to win the coveted prize in 2015 including Wellington Phoenix players Matt Ridenton and Alex Rufer (nephew of Wynton).
This moment marks the beginning of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Winner’s Trophy tour across the country for Kiwi local fans in May, and for global visitors heading to New Zealand, this is the first of many opportunities to get up close and personal with one of football’s most prized possessions.
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to do this - to hold such a special trophy in my hands and bring it to our shores for an official welcome is a real honour,” said Rufer.
After a ceremony at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds meeting house, the trophy will then be taken to the first of 50 outings from Waitangi to Invercargill; schools to sports clubs and malls - all as part of the countdown to the world’s second largest male football event, held in New Zealand next year.
“With the FIFA World Cup in Brazil kicking off in a few weeks, and our tournament little more than a year away, we wanted to give football fans across the country a chance to get a taste of what is coming and to feel part of the excitement. Kiwis get to see the trophy before the players vying for it do and we think that’s pretty special,” said Dave Beeche, Local Organising Committee CEO FIFA U-20 World Cup NZ 2015.
“This trophy has been held aloft by some of the greatest footballers in the world. Players such as Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona who first found fame at this event,” said Beeche.
From Northland, the trophy will travel down the North Island with a myriad of stops at places such as Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Inglewood, Wanganui and Wellington plus several more. The South Island adventure includes Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, Balclutha, Gore, Invercargill, Queenstown and Cromwell.
“Locals will get the chance to have their photo with the trophy and at several stops, some fun football activations will be on offer,” said Beeche.
The tour will conclude with One Year to Go celebrations on Friday 30 May with major events planned in Auckland and Wellington. Capping off the day’s celebrations is an international friendly match between the All Whites and South Africa at Mt Smart stadium that night.
It will take 24 teams and 52 matches played in football regions across the country to find the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup champions and fans now have their chance to ensure they are part of it. Tickets are already on sale for registered footballers for a three week exclusive window. Official fans who have registered on fifa.com/nz2015 get their chance from Monday 19 May and public sales begin on 13 June, coinciding with the start of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
You can see the national trophy tour itinerary on the official website and there is further Ticketing information on the official Ticketing page.