A football team from Agryz in Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan will become the first-ever girls to be ball boys at an opening World Cup match at Russia 2018 this summer.
The team of youngsters participated in the World Cup trophy tour in Kazan on Thursday, after winning a nationwide contest to become ball boys in the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The competition was open to amateur players aged 13-16 and the winners were chosen by players of the Russian national team. The results were announced earlier in the week.
Traditionally reserved for young boys who are on the books at professional football clubs, the role will now be carried out by the girls team at Russia versus Saudi Arabia on June 14 in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
"Everybody screamed. The emotions we experienced were unbelievable. It is probably the biggest dream for football players to attend the World Cup. We are speechless, absolutely speechless," said Yulia Shustova, the team captain.
The World Cup Trophy Tour is the largest of its kind and will see the trophy visit 91 cities, across 51 countries and six continents. The trophy made its way across Russia for three months, visiting 16 cities and traveling more than 16,000km (9,900 miles), and making it the longest host country tour in history.
By the time the trophy reaches Moscow on June 7, one week before Russia versus Saudi Arabia game, the trophy will have traveled from Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East to Kaliningrad, the country’s most westerly city, and visited each of the 11 tournament host cities.
Kazan Arena, in the capital of Tatarstan, is one of 12 host venues for the Russia 2018 tournament, hosting six games in total, including world champions Germany in the Group F match against South Korea on June 27, as well as a quarter-final.