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Palmerston Nth Boy on Pitch at World Cup Final

For immediate release
6 July 2006

Palmerston North Boy to Run Onto Pitch at World Cup Final

When Italy and France run onto the pitch to contest the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final on Monday, a New Zealander will be running alongside them.

Ten year old Todd Higgins from Palmerston North won the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk onto the field hand in hand with a soccer superstar - in front of billions of football fans watching worldwide.

“I am so excited to be able to walk onto the pitch at the World Cup Final and to meet some of my idols,” says Todd.

The Player Escort Programme, a joint initiative between New Zealand Soccer and McDonald’s Restaurants NZ Ltd, was designed and implemented to get kids participating in junior soccer.

All Whites soccer coach, Ricki Herbert, drew Todd’s name from the thousands of entries sent in by junior soccer players from around New Zealand.

Every child aged between 6-10 years who registered to play junior soccer this season received an entry form to enter the draw for a chance to win a trip to the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, and meet their soccer idols.

“This is an amazing opportunity for Todd,” says New Zealand Soccer Marketing Manager, Nick Thurston. “For a New Zealand child to not only attend the World Cup, but actually walk onto the field just prior to kick off with one of the players in the final is absolutely phenomenal.”

The number of junior soccer players in New Zealand has steadily increased recently from 70,000 in 2000 to an estimated 100,000 today.

“This is our sixth year as major sponsor of the New Zealand Soccer Small Whites Programme that helps kids enjoy sport throughout the country,” says Ian Sutcliffe, McDonald’s Director of Marketing. “We hope that the Player Escort Programme will encourage even more children to play soccer and to keep active.”

Todd’s family has accompanied him on the trip to Germany.

The prize includes three nights accommodation in Germany, return airfares, meals, match tickets, travel insurance for the winner plus guardian.

ENDS

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