RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (MAY 31, 2013) (REUTERS) - In Rio de Janeiro for their international soccer friendly with Brazil, England national team players took time to play with underprivileged children on Friday (May 31).
Organised by the Bola Pra Frente or "ball in front" institute, founded in 2000, the goal of the event was to give children living on the margins an opportunity to share their love of football with some of England's brightest soccer stars.
English forward, Theo Walcott, spoke about what the experience meant to him and his hopes for the future.
"It's a fantastic different experience for me personally to experience the amount of discipline and the amount of support is shown in the community here. Hopefully in a year's time we can be back here and see the changes, and to be part of it as well, it's fantastic. At a young age, you know, a lot of these kids wouldn't have had the sort of training facilities that I used to have, and like I say, what we do, what we can sort of raise, we can hopefully, you know, build on that," Walcott said.
Midfielder for England, Jack Rodwell, was excited to be getting an idea of what to expect in 2014.
"It's like I said for me, when you think of Brazil, you think of football so it's the perfect stage, perfect hosts. So, to play this friendly, to get, to taste a bit of the atmosphere, you know, coming into the next year, will be brilliant."
England's squad arrived in Rio on Thursday (May 30) and immediately had to deal with the brief scare that the game would be suspended after a court order ruled that host stadium, the iconic Maracana, was unfit to safely accommodate attending fans.
But then late Thursday, a judge lifted the suspension after missing paperwork was finally provided.
Sunday's match will be the first international contest held in the newly renovated $500-million arena first built for the 1950 World Cup.
The stadium is due to host seven matches during the 2014 World Cup, including the final.
That last time these teams met in February, England defeated Brazil 2-1 at Wembley. It was England's first victory over the Latin American powerhouse in 23 years.