Almost 1,000 boys and girls will enjoy the thrill of a lifetime at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil in June when they become members of the highly successful FIFA Youth Programme.

Thanks in large part to FIFA’s Commercial Affiliates, some 960 youngsters aged between six and 17 will experience a major football tournament behind the scenes and from a players-eye view - and will no doubt feel the same butterflies in their stomachs as they prepare to accompany the players on to the pitch as escorts, flag bearers and essential ball crew.

The FIFA Youth Programme has become a cornerstone of every FIFA tournament and, according to FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil, is a testament to the special relationship FIFA enjoys with its Commercial Affiliates.

“Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our Commercial Affiliates, we have created a programme that offers boys and girls of all ages an unforgettable experience and an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the hosting of a successful tournament,” Weil said.

“The FIFA Youth Programme, through the player escort, flag bearer and ball crew initiatives, will enable almost 1,000 children across Brazil to feel as much a part of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 as the players themselves.”

In order to ensure as many youngsters as possible are given the opportunity to apply to participate in the FIFA Youth Programme at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Sony have been busy for some time auditioning recruits or holding a variety of competitions and initiatives ahead of the tournament.

Coca-Cola, for instance, selected 138 boys and girls aged 14-16 to perform vital ball crew duties through local and national phases of its Copa Coca-Cola Programme, which is aimed at helping youngsters pursue a more active lifestyle through sport. Coca-Cola is also recruiting a further 12 youngsters aged 16-18 for each match to act as National Flag Crews, carrying the flags of both participating nations onto the field of play prior to kick-off.

adidas, meanwhile, is running an online recruitment campaign to recruit six young teenage boys and girls at each match to carry the FIFA Fair Play Flag on to the pitch as part of the pre-match ceremonies. Winning applicants will be selected from the entries to the Guardião da Bandeira (Flag Guardian) competition on adidas’ digital platforms which asks the question: “Why are your friends important enough to carry the flag with you?”

McDonald’s is reaching out to Brazil’s public schools to recruit more than 350 children, aged six to ten, to join the McDonald’s Player Escort Programme that is as much a joy for those of us who see the look on the youngsters’ faces as it is for the kids themselves when they accompany their heroes onto the pitch.

The players’ escorts will be selected as part of a legacy-focused partnership that will see McDonald’s provide each school with relevant enhancements to their sports programmes and which is aimed at helping inspire the next generation of sporting heroes.

The Sony FIFA Flag Crews, which require six youngsters aged 12-17 for each match, are in the process of being selected locally through a range of initiatives involving Sony’s huge web presence, its extensive network of retail outlets and Sony Mobile Communications dealerships.

So, when you sit down to enjoy the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil, you’ll know a little more about how the boys and girls accompanying the players, carrying the flags and dashing to return the match balls into play came to be there – and why they are all smiling like that.