MOSCOW: As a part of its youth-oriented vision, FIFA has inducted a total of 3,830 children across the globe in its youth programme for the World Cup 2018 in Russia.
The programme will allow children to be a key part of footballing action on matchdays through exciting activities such as acting as player escorts, flag bearers, ball carriers, ball crew members and helping with the coin toss ahead of the games kicking off.
The programme was first initiated during the 1998 World Cup in France and has targeted connecting children aged between 6 and 17 with football from an early age, irrespective of their gender. It also gives them a chance to maybe meet one of their footballing idols in person, courtesy the work of FIFA’s partners and sponsors such as adidas, Kia Motors, McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Dalian Wanda, a Chinese multinational conglomerate firm.
While adidas, Coca-Cola, Kia Motors and McDonald’s return to add their assistance to the Youth Programme at Russia 2018, this is the first time that Dalian Wanda will take part in this special initiative.
The five companies are involved in the Youth Programme in the following ways:
adidas FIFA Fair Play flag bearers: 384 local and international children (aged 14-17)
Coca-Cola National Flag Bearers, ball crew members and coin toss kids: 1600 local and international children (12-17)
Dalian Wanda FIFA flag bearers: 384 local and international children (12-17)
Kia Motors Official Match Ball Carriers: 36 Russian and 28 international children (10-14)
McDonald’s Player Escorts: 1273 local children, 135 international children (6-10)
It is also to be noted that Kia Motors conducted a similar competition in India as well alongside former captain Bhaichung Bhutia, out of which 2 children were selected to travel to Russia as a part of this programme.
FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura talked about the programme to the media. “Thanks to the youth programme, children from all over the world can be a part of the FIFA World Cup. We must remember that football is not only a sport, but it also promotes acceptance and unity. FIFA intends to share these values with the young participants of the youth programme as they are the future of the sport and I am proud of the collaboration with our commercial affiliates to reach this objective.”
FIFA chief commercial officer Philippe Le Floc’h noted: “FIFA, together with adidas, Coca-Cola, Dalian Wanda, Kia and McDonalds, gives the youth programme participants the opportunity to have a once in a lifetime experience. Our goal is to deepen the relationship between fans and the game, not only on the pitch and in the stadiums, but also with people from every corner of the globe. This programme is the ultimate example of how FIFA works together with its Partners and Sponsors to engage with communities and provide them with authentic and unique experiences that lets them to be part of the FIFA World Cup.”