why do soccer players walk out with kids

Although I m not a diehard soccer fan, IБve really been enjoying the thrills and drama of the
World Cup in. But there are a lot of quirks of the sport I still donБt get: Why are the players always falling down and pretending to be hurt, when they clearly are not? Why is it so hard to figure out how much time is left in the game (stoppage time? what is that? )? These are good questions, but the one that s been intriguing me is this: whatБs the deal with the little kids who hold the playersБ hands as they walk into the stadium before the national anthems and the kickoff? You know what I mean: before each game starts, the players walk onto to the field (no, IБm not going to call it the Б pitch Б sorry) lined up single file, the two teams side-by-side following the referees.

And each player is accompanied by a cute youngster wearing soccer garb. It is certainly quite adorable. But what does it mean? Who are these kids? The tradition of Бmatch mascotsБ, as they are known in the British Premier League, dates back as long as anyone can remember. On club teams, the youngsters are usually members of the teamsБ youth development programs. It makes for a beautiful image as the men of the team symbolically pass along their love of the game to the next generation, and of course itБs a huge thrill and honor for the young athletes!

In a sport as hotly contested as world class football, it also helps to have cute little kids around so the athletes donБt let their testosterone-fueled competitiveness get them into pre-game skirmishesБ At this yearБs World Cup, McDonaldБs is sponsoring the program that brought more than 1,400 kids (and their parents! ) from around the world to Brazil to escort the stars of their countries on to the fields of glory (which accounts for why the kids uniforms are in McDonalds colors, not those of their team). It is yet another beautiful tradition in a beautiful game, and the players seem to get a kick out of it as well. Even English team superstar Wayne Rooney was once a Бmatch mascotБ for his local team, Everton.

I hope youБve been having as much fun as I have getting to know more about soccer and about Brazil during this yearБs exciting World Cup. Player escorts are getting the thrill of their young lives walking onto the soccer field hand-in-hand with a player before the start of every game. Left to right, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Yuya Osako, Yasuyuki Konno, Shinji Okazaki and Maya Yoshida of Japan sing the National Anthem during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Japan and Greece. Indeed, for the 1,408 children selected by McDonald's -- who hail from 70 countries -- are enjoying the experience of a lifetime at the in Brazil.

One of those escorts, 6-year-old Abigail Mindes from Utah, will escort a player from the United States onto the field this Sunday when it takes on Portugal. "It was a little surprise for me! " the first grader told ABC News affiliate. With the World Cup entering its second week, there have already been moments where the young mascots have made lasting impression. Australian midfielder Mark Bresciano said he was just doing what any parent or player would do when he bent down to tie the shoe of his escort onto the field last week -- a little boy who was on crutches. "Itвs always nice to have kids share that walk out because it is so special for them," Bresciano told the. "I had no idea the photo had been sent around the world," he said. "But I'm just glad the boy had a good time. " Even some of the World Cup's most famous faces know what it feels like to walk out with a soccer hero.

English striker Wayne Rooney, who scored his first ever World Cup goal on Thursday, was once a mascot for his local team, Everton. Sign up for occasional World Cup dispatches from Brazil delivered right to your phone -- including the best photos and limited highlights -- by "starring" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone or ABC News for Android.