Sunday 18 December 2022, 06:30

Youth Programme children enjoy kickabout with FIFA World Cup ambassadors

  • FIFA World Cup Ambassadors met Youth Participants for Q&A and football fun

  • Event brought together youths from different countries with their football heroes

  • Programme offers unique experiences through support of FIFA Commercial Affiliates

Boys and girls taking part in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Youth Programme have already chalked up an enviable tally of unforgettable experiences as player escorts, flag carriers and ball boys and ball girls, taking to the pitch for matchday ceremonies alongside players and in front of packed stadiums full of fans.

A lucky group of Youth Programme participants ranging in age from 12 to 17 got to meet FIFA World Cup Ambassadors Marcel Desailly, Yaya Touré, Lothar Matthäus, Luis Hernandez, Nadia Nadim, Tim Cahill, Sarah Essam, Ali Al-Habsi and Wessam Qutob on the eve of the 2022 final. The meet-and-greet activity gave the ambassadors a chance to connect with the next generation of football fans and understand their experiences and perceptions of the game from a unique point of view. Programme Manager Paola Castro said, “Our Youth Programme is all about dreams and life-building experiences. "Through our FIFA Commercial Affiliates, Wanda and Kia, and the schools, football academies, community groups and other entities we are able to provide young boys and girls from different backgrounds with the opportunity to be involved in the World Cup first-hand, to meet their heroes face to face. We believe this builds not only pride and confidence, but also maturity, communication and an understanding of how large-scale events and organizations operate.”

Yaya Toure signs autographs for a member of the youth programme

After the informal Q&A, both sides joined for a little 5 v 5 football action, with souvenir mementoes signed and gifted to all youth participants. Some programme participants are from underprivileged families, while other children are recovering from serious illnesses. 12 year old Flag Carrier, Leah Alsoufi from Syria said, “I never thought I’d be part of the World Cup. But we got to rehearse in the stadium and when I got to carry the flag, in front of so many people, I felt like l was a part of the excitement. It was one of the best days of my life.” The happiest participant on the day may have been Marcel Desailly who said, “I’m retired now and my reward is to see the smiles of these children. It’s always important to keep in touch with the younger generation because they are the ones who will shape a brighter future for us all.”

Marcel Desailly has a photo taken with member of FWC youth programme