Irish boys participate in World Cup opening ceremony
Daniel McCabe (12) from Dundalk and Daniel Mihaliov (12) from Carrickmacross plan to cheer on Russia
Daniel McCabe (12), from Dundalk, Co Louth, carrying the Irish flag at a football event in Russia ahead of taking part in the opening ceremony of the World Cup.
Ireland may not have a team on the pitch for the World Cup in Russia but a young football fan from Co Louth was on hand to carry the Irish flag during the opening ceremony.
Daniel McCabe (12) was chosen to carry the flag in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium before the opening Russia v Saudi Arabia match, which was expected to have an estimated global television audience in the billions.
Daniel and another Irish boy, Daniel Mihaliov (12) from Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, took part in the festivities after playing in the ‘Football for Friendship’ tournament organised by Russian energy monopoly Gazprom, a FIFA sponsor.
“He is so proud to be representing his country and to carry the tricolour,” his mother Anastasia McCabe, who moved to Ireland from St Petersburg in 2001, told the Irish Times. “Daniel had to do a whole application, an essay and photo for the application to take part and he’s so excited to be here.”
The Football for Friendship tournament sees 12-year-old boys and girls from 211 countries taking part in a tournament involving 32 teams.
Daniel, who plays as a defender for Dundalk’s Quay Celtic FC, played in three games for a team called Magellanic Penguin, which was made up of children from New Zealand, Mozambique, Chad, Bermuda, and Tahiti.
The Ugandan coach of the team could not find a goalkeeper so Daniel played in goal as well as in defence.
“We won one game and lost two and were third in a group,” said Daniel. “But Football for Friendship is a social programme - it’s not about winning, but about making friends around the world and I have made loads of new friends.”
Daniel Mihaliov, whose parents are originally from Lativa, had never been to Russia and also took part, reporting on the event for a YouTube channel.
Both boys were given prime seats for the opening match and said they would be cheering on Russia.