It is common to see soccer players come out with child. But, why do soccer organizers and players do this? We have the answers.
Soccer players come out with child in order to encourage children to dream and work towards their dream. Additionally, children are a symbol of innocence, something that soccer’ stakeholders want. Children in soccer help to enhance the image of the game and create a family-friendly environment.
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Why Do Soccer Players Come Out With a Child?
If you’ve been following soccer games in various tournaments, chances are you’ve seen soccer players getting into the field accompanied by children.
For over 20 years now, the practice of footballers walking onto the pitch while holding the hand of a child has been a tradition for games. Furthermore, mascot children or player escorts have become a common sight in National Leagues and other professional soccer games both domestically and internationally.
Herebelow, you will learn why children’s mascots continue to be part of the football tradition.
Fulfilling Children’s Dreams
There are so many things about soccer that are fascinating to children. It is a fun and simple game that allows them to interact with others and remain competitive. While at it, some dream of stepping into renowned stadiums in the world and participating in professional games.
Those who are passionate about becoming footballers would not hesitate to jump at the opportunity of meeting and interacting with their favorite players. Again, when players come out with children, the children are exposed to celebrities and the influence that they have, and these include being proud of meeting great personalities.
A great way to fulfill this dream is to become a mascot and accompany lead players during the World Cup or other competitions in the US such as the US Open Cup. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the kids and it will keep them motivated to pursue and fulfill their dreams.
Symbol of Innocence
With cheeky smiles and friendly faces, children are undoubtedly a symbol of innocence. They are simple, naïve, playful, and possess both inner and physical beauty.
Consequently, the practice of players going to the field holding the children’s hands brings a sense of peace and fairness. There is an increased need to act well in front of them and protect them from harm. Moreover, this practice has greatly discouraged people from throwing things onto the field.
To Promote Children Right’s Campaign
Initially, player mascots escorted players to the field to increase awareness for charity causes.
In preparation for the 2002 FIFA World Cup which was held in Japan and South Korea, both FIFA and UNICEF launched the Say Yes For Children campaign in a bid to urge people to protect and improve children’s lives. The campaign sought to highlight children’s issues and give them hope.
In this event, they wore a FIFA/UNICEF jersey and got the privilege to walk out with their role models.
In a press release by UNICEF, having children accompany players onto the pitch is a good way to remind football fans throughout the world of their role in building a better world for children. It was also a way to demonstrate that soccer could make a difference in them,and indeed, to other children from all over the world.
Creates a Family-Friendly Environment
Similarly, having children mascot at a match helps to create a more fun and relaxed environment for both parents and children. Initially, soccer was dubbed a violent sport because of alcoholism and the outbreak of fights.
However, things became more streamlined when football governing bodies, associations, and clubs put stringent measures on those who attend football events. This move was strengthened by the inclusion of children in the game as mascots.
Today, most parents are at ease bringing their children to a soccer match since other kids are included in the escort of soccer teams.
It is also believed that having players walk out with kids minimizes the likelihood of supporters acting violently toward the players. In general, getting kids involved in the sport makes everyone, including the players, feel good about the game.
Enhances the Image of Soccer Teams
Having kids accompanying soccer players on the pitch can be a marketing strategy to enhance the soccer team’s image.
Not only does it enhance the visibility of the team but it also helps to build loyalty and recognition. Children can attract a lot of attention and create an emotional connection with the fans. It works well for public relations to improve the team’s image.
Generate Revenue for Soccer Teams
Unknown to some people, most Premier League clubs charge children a certain amount to appear as mascots.
For instance, football clubs like Everton charge up to $718 to give children a memorable and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, other clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea don’t charge children to join their teams as mascots.
Moreover, the kits that children wear to the field carry adverts for promotional purposes without being overly salesy or spending too much.
Sponsorship is a key strategy for clubs to make extra money as they get paid to embed brand logos of their sponsors on the children’s and players’ jerseys. For instance, McDonald’s has sponsored the mascot program both in the World Cup and European Championship since 2022.
- The practice of player escort began ahead of Japan and South Korea hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
- Kids who accompany players to the field are known as mascot children or player escorts.
- Player escorts are chosen by local schools and junior schools with athletic skill being a top consideration.
- Some soccer superstars like Wayne Rooney were once one-time player escorts. He escorted Everton in 1996 during the Merseyside derby.
- Involving children in soccer games is a symbol of their innocence. It also promotes children’s rights and creates a kid-friendly environment.