Who Are These Kids?

by Lia Beck

If you've been watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup, you may have noticed that something very cute happens before each game. No, I'm not talking about the players and their fans coming together to sing their national anthem; although that is pretty heartwarming. I'm talking about the children who walk out with the World Cup players. Who are these kids and why do they have such an important job? Yeah, it's really important. The players may not be able to find the field otherwise and these kids clearly have a good grasp on where it's located.

The children you see at the World Cup are part of the FIFA Youth Programme which consists of nearly 4,000 youth ages six to 18 who assist with World Cup games by walking players on to the field, assisting the ball crew, or bearing flags. Around 60 program members participate in each game. The young children, ages six through ten, who walk the players out are specifically part of the McDonald's Escort Program which includes 1,408 kids selected from 70 countries.

Out of the children selected, 26 are from the United States and were chosen through a sweepstakes. These children are given a four-night, five-day trip to Brazil where they escort a player onto the field as well as play a soccer game with other children and participate in local cultural activities. The trip includes airfare, lodging, and meals for the child and a parent or guardian. Obviously, the most exciting part is that the kids get the chance to meet their favorite players and attend an event that pretty much everyone around the world would love to attend.

And the most exciting part for viewers is just how cute this all is. I mean, just look at them!

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Now you know why the kids are at the World Cup and why they wear red, yellow, and Ronald McDonald's striped socks.