Cries of "Allez" (come on) and "Vas-y" (go on) filled the air as the UEFA Europa League Truck Tour parked up in Lyon on the latest leg of its journey across Europe towards next May's final in Amsterdam.
A boisterous group of pupils from a local international school crowded into the truck – parked a Rémy Vercoutre goal kick away from the Stade de Gerland – to get themselves in the mood ahead of Olympique Lyonnais' matchday three meeting with Athletic Club. The main attraction was the truck's interactive adidas Buzzertool, a wall studded with official UEFA Europa League match balls. The wall stretches reflexes by randomly illuminating one of the balls, which then has to be struck to score a point, all within an allotted time.
"I'm an OL fan. I wanted to play, and I'm also here for the match," said Jean Delaye, 14, who walked away from the truck proudly clutching an official UEFA Europa League match ball after beating his classmates on the wall. "We were in the Champions League before. I followed that, but I think we have a better chance of winning the Europa League."
Adorned with signed shirts from participating teams such as Olympique de Marseille, FC Basel 1893 and SK Rapid Wien, as well as local heroes OL, the truck also displayed the match shirt of Carlos Velasco Carballo, the referee of the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League final. After casting an eye over the memorabilia and choosing their dream pair from the interactive shoe and football boot display, the fans' focus turned to what they could win for themselves.
"I came here because I saw there was a game and I wanted to play," said another pupil, Garance Bonne, 14, who was delighted to receive a mini match ball for her efforts on the wall. "I wasn't bad, but there was also a little bit of luck. I'm not very good at football, but that was fun."
After attending the UEFA Europa League draw in Monaco, and then taking in Berne, Trondheim and Lyon, the truck will make a stop each matchday. It will finish by pulling up in the Dutch capital to generate its unique brand of footballing passion and excitement in the build-up to the final at the Amsterdam ArenA on 15 May.
"It's great because you get to meet lots of different people, they're happy to come here, and we go to lots of different cities," said Şafak Çetin, who works inside the truck, and whose bright orange polo shirt added a further dash of vivid colour to the occasion. "People come here and see the things inside the truck – it's somewhere they can play, and get a little closer to the Europa League, which is great."
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