The Lions may not be competing at the World Cup finals, but Singapore will still be represented in Brazil. The Straits Times, in partnership with McDonald's/Fifa World Cup Player Escort Programme, will be sending three kids to serve as player escorts during the Round of 16 match between the winners of Group C and runners-up of Group D on June 28. The match will be played at the Maracana Stadium and could potentially feature the likes of England or Uruguay.
From an initial list of more than 100 entries, our panel of judges have picked 10 to head into the final found. Although 70 per cent of the score of each hopeful will come from the judging panel, you too can have a say. A total of 30 per cent of each kid's final score will be determined by the number of votes he or she receives. The more votes, the higher his/her score.
Vote for your favourite Player Escort
SMS to 146077877 before 23 April 2014, midnight, in this format:stmcdwc
Voting starts at 12 noon on April 9 and ends at 11.59pm on April 23.
Ten voters will be picked from the pool of entries to win a $100 McDonald’s® voucher each. The draw will be conducted at SPH News Centre on April 25, 2014, 2pm
Terms and conditions: The vote count will be based on unique votes, so each person is allowed to cast only one vote. Each SMS costs $0.21. Voters below the age of 18 must seek parental consent.
WC 1Name: Afiq Mikhail Age: 7
He is a fervent Real Madrid and Liverpool supporter, and he can even pull off Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge’s celebratory dance.
A budding taekwondo exponent, football remains his first love, and the chatty boy is rooting for Portugal to win their first World Cup.
The De La Salle School student has already been to the hallowed Anfield ground to see the stadium where his idols play.
But he hopes to go one step further in June by stepping out on the field with some of the greatest players at the World Cup.
WC 2Name: Akira YeoAge: 11
Akira can never get enough of football – and it is not just the sport he is crazy about. The 11-year-old De La Salle School student has more than 10 balls in his collection, of different colours and sizes.
His fondest memories from the last World Cup were of watching the action from South Africa live at McDonald’s outlets with his father. This time around, he hopes to be in Brazil to experience the thrill of the tournament first-hand.
Akira will be taking the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) later this year and there is nothing he would like more than to use the Brazil trip as a break from his exam preparations.
WC 3Name: Arianne SeeAge: 10
Arianne may seem shy and reserved, but talk to her about football and you will be surprised.
The 10-year-old from Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) cannot stop talking about Manchester United and how she would take on her older brother in football – both on the field and in computer games.
The only girl in the shortlist of 10, she hopes to be among the final three so she can inspire more girls to take up the Beautiful Game. Getting a chance to walk alongside her footballing heroes at the World Cup will definitely provide her with the platform to fulfil her goal.
WC 4Name: Christopher David Age: 8
He has the hairstyle and the swagger. Perhaps all that is missing is the skill. But that has not stopped young Christopher David from dreaming about following in Brazilian footballer Neymar’s footsteps one day.
The St Joseph’s Institution Junior student is already a talented footballer with a bag of tricks, including flicks and stepovers. When he was younger, he loved to emulate his favourite players’ goal celebrations, and gamely does an imitation on cue.
The Everton fan’s life revolves around football; his first word when he was a baby was “moll” (ball). A trip to the World Cup will fuel his burning ambition to make it as a football player.
WC 5Name: Danial Nazim Age: 7
Chatty and outgoing, Danial is a confident kid with a winsome smile. He may be only seven but is very comfortable in front of the camera, posing gamely during a photo shoot for the contest.
The Westwood Primary School student may have played in goal and upfront in school, but he has yet to watch a football match live.
He hopes that his first match will also be his biggest – at the Maracana stadium during the Brazil World Cup. Apart from watching a World Cup match, he hopes to accomplish one more thing in Brazil – to tell the player he is escorting all about Singapore.
WC 6Name: David Sam Goh-Pereira Age: 6
Like his adoptive father, Cambodian-born David loves football. The soft-spoken boy has a wealth of football knowledge, especially about English club Chelsea, the team he supports.
He is also a huge fan of Singapore’s LionsXII, and has been to the Jalan Besar Stadium to watch live matches.
This June, he is hoping to get the chance to watch his biggest live match – at the World Cup.
WC 7Name: Jovan KohAge: 10
Despite not having access to football channels at home, Jovan probably knows just about every Manchester United trivia there is. The Gongshang Primary School student is constantly reading articles in print and online about the Red Devils and watches their games on YouTube.
His prized possession is a vintage United jersey from the 1999-2000 season, because he says the players then were “better”. His football knowledge, however, is not confined to his favourite team. He is equally familiar with the local football scene, and avidly follows the LionsXII.
He has a football app on which he tracks scores of big matches. But he is hoping that he will not have to rely on it come June 28, during the Brazil World Cup – as he wants to watch the match live.
WC 8Name: Nadir HaziqAge: 11
Halfway line goals evoke memories of Spanish footballer Xabi Alonso and English forward Wayne Rooney, but in Nadir, Singapore boasts a player who is capable of doing the same thing.
Representing his school in a zonal football tournament, the Beacon Primary School student managed to trap the ball with his thigh before volleying it into the net from behind the halfway line, winning the game for his school.
As the captain of his school team, he is used to leading players onto the field, but to walk out on the pitch with established stars in the World Cup would be a dream come true for him.
WC 9Name: Pranav ParwaniAge: 6
Pranav may be only six but he has big plans. The Ngee Ann Primary School student is hoping to train with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona one day to improve his footballing skills.
But Spain may not be his preferred destination if he fulfils his footballing dream. It is LionsXII that Pranav hopes to play for.
If he gets the trip to the World Cup, escorting a star onto the field may just be a dress rehearsal for this ambitious kid.
WC 10Name: Muhammed Shafiq Age: 10
Shafiq’s cheerful demeanour ensures that he is often the one who livens up any room. The prince of funny faces is a natural in front of the camera.
And he is not bad at football too. The Real Madrid fan dedicates a large part of his weekend to playing the game, and he dreams of playing for the national team one day.
He never lets the opportunity to have a kick-about pass him by, and he would love to meet and be inspired by the World Cup stars in Brazil.