DOHA – Can happiness be measured? And the happiness linked to soccer? How many millions of boys around the world today dream of being like Messi? Is it possible to keep a statistic of how much emotion it can generate in a boy to be next to a figure like Leo or Neymar or Mbappé?Would someone dare to explain it? Only those who live it, who feel it firsthand, could try to describe it. And even so, even if all the details are available, something would be lost along the way. The World Cup is the elite of soccer, it is the meeting that every four years can generate smiles and unexpected hugs. And it is also the maximum peak of illusion in each youth who is going to try out a club and who, in front of a camera after the first surprising dribbles, is capable of saying: “My first dream is to play in a World Cup… and the second , come out champion “. Diego Maradona did it, also Lionel Messi.

The World Cup is not just goals and games won or frustrating defeats. Some win and others lose, geopolitics and economic interests that revolve around the planet are often mixed, various suspicions, but there are also sensations that cannot be measured and that reflect the purest of sport: the happiness of being part of a World Cup at the age of ten. Yes, the greats play it, but the boys enjoy it beyond the flags and colors, beyond the nationalities and what happens next on the pitch depending on the result. For the boys, “winning” is being there, even when the referee did not start the game. Even if it’s for a few seconds, for a few minutes. In that previous moment that, for them, can last for years.

The Premier League had implemented it in the 90s. But for FIFA it all began with a Unicef ​​campaign in the World Cup in Korea and Japan in 2002 : “Say Yes for Children”, was the initial project, with which they tried to improve and protect the lives of children around the world, so that all children can have a healthy recreation and a quality primary education.

The custom traveled well beyond the World Cup and carried over to other major competitions . It is done in the Copa Libertadores, in the Champions League, in the Copa América, in various local leagues. Here in Qatar, it is repeated, and it has generated several very funny and exciting moments throughout the tournament.

In a super-professional environment, surrounded by pressure and responsibility, the faces of these boys mark an immense contrast with the faces of tension with which many of the footballers enter the stadiums. Although they take them by the hand and walk the same path, they are two different worlds walking down a corridor and stepping on the grass of a World Cup stadium. They listen to hymns together. They participate in the presentation photos, they listen to their heartbeat. Suddenly they have them there, next to them, those idols that they see on TV on weekends from thousands of kilometers away. An unforgettable experience.

When some of those same players detect that there is someone there who is looking at them with admiration and manage to connect, it is impossible for them not to express a smile. And, somehow, he manages to reconnect the protagonists with the origin of this sport, which is nothing more than that: a game.

In recent days, several photographs and videos have gone viral in which you can perceive the reactions of many of these children, who are chosen in different ways. On the one hand, local soccer schools are taken over , but a commercial link was also achieved with some of the official FIFA sponsors, who grant those places by protocol or brand promotions .

Naturally Lionel Messi is the one who arouses the greatest number of reactions with the boys. In fact, he generates them with adults, too. It must not be forgotten that this World Cup, perhaps like no other, is focused on his image. In a local broadcast of any World Cup match on the powerful Bein Sports chain, an advertising batch has five ads and Messi appears in all of them, as the exclusive protagonist or as a co-star. But he is in everyone.

If one thing feeds the other, you will never know, but all the boys go crazy for the Argentine captain. Whoever goes hand in hand with him directly goes on to live the best experience of his short life. But all the others, who are with other players, go out of their way to greet him. They try to touch him when he walks by. And Messi usually responds to everyone, with smiles and high fives . Some of the most remarkable and exciting reactions were with him. Even boys who went into a state of nervous excitement and began to jump and shout: “Líonel Messi, Líonel Messi!” (thus, accentuating the “i” in the name).

Another of those who arouses passions is a teammate of Messi at PSG: Kylian Mbappé. It also caused several boys to break ranks in the court entry protocol to celebrate that they had met the French star.

It’s a minor issue, by the way. A very minor one. But they also talk about that in football. “For me the pressures in football do not exist. The pressure is something else. This is to go in and play the best possible, as the players know how to do it ”, Lionel Scaloni usually says. It is self-demand and external imposition that transport emotions to unexpected places. But the big ones and the boys can also cross sensations.Or perhaps Scaloni and Pablo Aimar did not cry like children?after Messi and Enzo Fernández’s goals against Mexico, after the relief from the great pressure they felt in the game after the initial defeat against Saudi Arabia?

When the escalation of commitments begins to overwhelm an athlete, a child’s gaze should be enough to relax and return everything to zero point . The footballer is probably thinking about the most important moment of his professional career, and he acts accordingly, how much a victory could be worth and how much a loss could cost him. But those guys are also quite possibly having the best experience of their lives. That is why a simple smile can be news. It’s not bad to think about that for a second. For them, surely, it will be enough.

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