Eight Hungarian children stepped on the football pitch this weekend, and had a chance to walk hand-in-hand with players of the Icelandic team on Saturday at the Moscow Spartak Stadium.
The McDonald’s Player Escort program began at the 2002 World Cup, jointly organized by South-Korea and Japan. The eight children won an opportunity of a lifetime through this online lottery, which allowed them to escort and stand next to the footballers while surrounded by fellow fans from all over the world.
Miksa Olti escorted Halldórsson, who was later named the best player of the match; Attila Kreisz walked hand-in-hand with goal scorer Finnbogason; Csaba Páll stood next to Magnússon; Hajnalka Oszfolk joined R. Sigurdsson; Zsombor Galambos escorted Árnason; Márton Szalados was paired with Saevarsson; Bálint Tóth walked out to the pitch with Hallfredsson, and Lilla Bengyeszkov joined Bjarnason. The names of the children were projected onto the screen alongside those of the players.
Two of the lucky winners, Bálint Tóth and Zsombor Galambos, even had the opportunity to high-five Lionel Messi as he walked out of the tunnel. Zsombor said:
We were lucky because the Argentinian players got to the player tunnel earlier than the Icelandic team. We then yelled at Messi and he walked over, smiled at us, and gave a high-five to me and to Bálint as well. All my dreams have come true, and I am very happy!
According to FIFA’s website, the initiative gave around 1500 children from a total of 47 different countries a chance to walk hand-in-hand with football stars at this year’s World Cup matches. During their stay, the children – who are between the ages of six and ten and have been selected in their home countries through an online prize game – attended the tournament and a number of other activities held by McDonald’s and FIFA.
The children watched the match from the stand, then on Sunday they visited the former Tsar’s residence at Kolomenskoye Park. After watching a free-style presentation, the children had their own football tournament wherein the Hungarians tied 1-1 against the escorts of the Argentinian players, with Miksa Olti scoring the sole point for the Hungarian team. The parents played a match which also resulted in a 1-1 draw. The program ended Sunday with a cruise on the Moscow river, and the group returned to Hungary on Monday.