It’s not long now until the sporting event of the summer, UEFA EURO 2016™, kicks off. Three of the four home nations are taking part: England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Fans across the UK, and the whole of Europe, will be gearing up to support their team. For me, the best thing about a big sporting event like this is it’s ability to bring people together. There is something quite magical about getting together with family and friends, to enjoy the tournament and share in the celebrations!
As a big football fan, married to a man who is also a big football fan, you can imagine the excitement in our house during big football tournaments. Particularly this year, as my husband is a Northern Ireland supporter. I have to say, the atmosphere here in Northern Ireland when they qualified for UEFA EURO 2016™, it was magical. I was born and raised in England, so I’m an England supporter myself, but living in Northern Ireland I’ll be supporting the boys in green throughout the tournament. Unless they are playing England, of course. I do really hope they get a chance to play each other, so we can get a bit of light hearted rivalry going in the house. Hey, an England v Northern Ireland final would be pretty awesome. Well, I guess we can dream, can’t we?
This is the first time that Northern Ireland have qualified for this tournament, so the mood here is going to be pretty special this summer. It’s all very exciting!
Even with two football loving parents, my children aren’t massive fans. Don’t get me wrong, they enjoy playing with a ball in the garden, but that is about as far as it goes. Despite this, there are still lots of ways we can enjoy the event as a family, and who knows, we may make super fans out of them yet!
So how can parents spend time with their children while watching the UEFA EURO 2016™?
There are lots of things that you can do to get the whole family excited and involved –
Get Talking – In the run up to the tournament, which kicks off in June, start talking to your children about it. Explain what it is, where it is being held, which countries will be playing. This is a great opportunity to learn about the different countries involved in the tournament. You can research together, or print out fact and activity sheets for younger children.
Make a UEFA EURO 2016™ Pin Board – You can pick up a cork board relatively cheap, along with a set of pins. Print out a large map of Europe and pin it to the board. This can become the hub of the tournament in your home. Get the kids to decorate the cork board with flags of all of the countries involved. The flags can be placed on the correct countries, or used to show what matches are next to be played. As teams get knocked out of the tournament, simply remove the flags from the board until only the winner remains.
Play Football – Head out in to the garden, or to your local park, and play a bit of football! Not only is it great exercise, but it’s also a lot of fun. You don’t need any equipment other than a ball, you can use your jumpers for goalposts! It’s not about being good at football, it’s just about having some fun together as a family.
Get Kitted Out – A great way to get the kids involved is to get the whole family kitted out in your nations colours, and wear them together during matches. You can opt for the official football replica shirts of your team, or most countries also supply a ‘training’ range in the same colours but usually with a smaller price tag. For a bit of added fun, why not make your own? Simply buy plain white t-shirts and some fabric paints and design some team t-shirts.
Play Homemade UEFA EURO 2016™ Games – Playing games like football Bingo together can help you enjoy the football matches as a family. Design your own bingo cards, with things like ‘referee shows a red card’ and ‘someone scores an own goal’. Family members can compete to see who can cross them all off first, adding a bit of extra fun to each game. Another good game is to put all the competing countries names in to a hat, and have everyone pick teams until there are none left to pick. The teams picked are now ‘your teams’. Children will enjoy watching with you to see if their teams are still in the tournament.
Watch a Match on the Big Screen – Keep an eye out locally for places showing the tournament on the big screen. Sometimes there are big screen events outdoors, allowing you to take a picnic and enjoy watching the football as a family. Often local cinemas have special showings too, so check with your cinema to see what they have planned. The atmosphere of a big screen game is fantastic, great for building excitement, and will get the kids in the spirit.
Obviously the ultimate way to enjoy the tournament with your children would be to go to a match, and experience the excitement live from inside the stadium. Well, McDonald’s are offering your little football fans the chance of a lifetime.
Your child has the opportunity to be a Player Escort at one of three hotly anticipated UEFA EURO 2016™ matches taking place in June or July 2016, including Northern Ireland v Germany!
Do you think your child is the most passionate football fan in the whole of Northern Ireland?
Well McDonald’s want parents across the province to capture that passion in a photo, for the chance to win that once in a lifetime opportunity. Nine lucky children will walk hand in hand on to the pitch with their football heroes, from the qualifying home nation of their choice. The competition is open to all UK children who will be aged between 6 and 10 years old on June 10th, 2016.
“I can only imagine how incredible the feeling will be for those lucky player escorts who will have the opportunity to walk out alongside their national heroes. It’s going to be an experience that stays with them forever” – Pat Jennings, McDonald’s head of Northern Irish football
Stepping out in front of a roaring crowd at the Northern Ireland vs Germany match, with the local heroes who helped Northern Ireland get this far. Holding hands with the likes of Kyle Rafferty, who scored an impressive 7 goals in the qualifying stage. This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of something truly special for Northern Ireland.
If you think your little Northern Ireland fan deserves that opportunity, and for full terms and conditions of entry, see: http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/Sport/Football/LetsPlay/EURO-2016.html
Good luck to all who enter! For those who don’t win, don’t worry too much. You can still spend time with your children and enjoy watching UEFA EURO 2016™ games together at home. However you will be watching the tournament, make sure you have fun!
This is a post in collaboration with McDonald’s, official sponsor of UEFA EURO 2016™