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Palmerston Nth Boy Runs On w France at World Cup

Palmerston North Boy Runs Onto Pitch With France at World Cup Final

Click to enlarge

Todd Higgins with French defender, Eric Abidal.

Todd Higgins (far
right, in yellow) with the French team, prior to kick
Click to enlarge

Todd Higgins (far right, in yellow) with the French team, prior to kick off.

For immediate release
10 July 2006

Palmerston North Boy Runs Onto Pitch With France at World Cup Final

When French defender, Eric Abidal ran onto the pitch at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, a New Zealander was running alongside him.

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

Eric scored a goal during the penalty shoot out, but his French team eventually lost to Italy 5-3.

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 was 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 was 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 encouraged 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.

McDonald’s recently announced its sponsorship renewal as FIFA World Cup Sponsor with FIFA, the world governing body of football, through 2014. Continuing its tradition of supporting football on both the global and grassroots levels, McDonald’s has been a long time champion of football for more than 25 years and has served as an Official Partner of the FIFA World Cup since 1994 in the United States, 1998 in France, 2002 in Korea and Japan and 2006 in Germany.


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