The All Whites may not be playing at the Fifa World Cup in Russia this month but a Mount Maunganui football fan will be.
Jonty Burggraaf, 12, will team up with kids his age from around the world in training camps and games as part of the 2018 Football For Friendship programme, to run from June 8 to 15.
Football For Friendship promotes essential values embodied by football with the younger generation such as respect for other cultures and nationalities as well as equality.
Jonty will be joined by fellow Mount Maunganui Intermediate student and Tauranga City AFC player Isla Ganley, 11, who is going to the event as a budding young journalist.
"I first played for my club at age 4 and am now in my ninth season. My grandfather represented New Zealand twice in rugby and softball so I want to do the same with football," Jonty says.
"There are 211 other players from around the world coming to play in this tournament and we have all been split into teams of six. I am also looking forward to watching the first game of the Fifa World Cup."
Isla is equally proud to be representing New Zealand at the F4F 2018.
"I am looking forward to having the opportunity to learn journalism skills and make new friends," she says.
"I have always loved writing and then this came up so I thought it would be a great opportunity. I am looking forward to learning some new skills and also meeting people from all over the world."
The two Mount Maunganui football fanatics got the opportunity as a result of Tauranga City AFC's ongoing work with the Australian-based Reagan Milstein Foundation.
The foundation was approached early this year by Lengo Football Academy, an Australian/Tanzanian-based organisation, to help put together a large delegation from Tanzania, Australia and the Pacific region to travel to Moscow with all expenses paid.
"We're delighted that Jonty and Isla are representing us as we know they'll be perfect ambassadors for our club, region and country while in Russia," Tauranga City AFC chairman Brendon McHugh says.
"This opportunity is a sign that we are on track to build a club that the region and the country can be proud of."
Emanuel Saakai, the founder of Lengo Football Academy, says his organisation is "excited by this opportunity to bring the joy of football and connectedness to young people in Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands".
"A highlight of the programme sees young people from all over the world attending the first game of the Fifa World Cup 2018 between Russia and Saudi Arabia. They'll also be part of the official opening ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow."