The FIFA Youth Programme has been running since the 1998 FIFA World Cup and underscores the importance FIFA places on enabling children to connect with football, from an early age and regardless of gender.

In Brazil, close to 3,000 children and young adults aged between six and 18 years old will join the FIFA Youth Programme. They will all play an essential role in the greatest sporting show on earth – and, at the same time, perhaps meet one of their footballing heroes!

Up to 60 youngsters will participate at each match, playing a variety of key roles, either as player escorts, ball crew, National Flag bearers, FIFA Flag bearers or FIFA Fair Play Flag bearers.

Each match will see completely new groups of boys and girls take-up these varied and essential roles, and putting the crews together has taken months of hard work by our participating Partners and Sponsors.

Coca-Cola (445 ball crew members and 768 National Flag bearers), McDonald’s (1,408 player escorts), Sony and adidas (384 official FIFA flag and 384 FIFA Fair Play flag bearers respectively) all bring considerable knowledge and expertise to the FIFA Youth Programme, whether running promotions to select the youngsters, arranging their travel and uniforms, or training and monitoring them on-site. McDonald's alone, for instance, receives hundreds of thousands of applications for positions as players' escorts!

Once selected, all 3,389 youngsters in Brazil will require chaperoning, training and feeding. The young boys and girls will each enjoy a unique experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

And, while every FIFA Youth Programme youngster is busy playing an essential part in the success of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, the smiles on their faces and the excitement in their eyes will beam the joy of this beautiful game to the watching world.