The UEFA EURO 2012 Follow the Trophy tour is up and running after the Henri Delaunay Cup was presented to the city of Warsaw on Friday at the start of a three-day stay in the Polish capital.
With Warsaw staging the opening game of UEFA EURO 2012 on 8 June, the city was the appropriate place to launch the Follow the Trophy tour, with a press conference, street parade and public display forming part of a busy agenda.
Warsawians caught their first glimpse of the coveted silverware at an event for local schoolchildren in the Ursus district, before the trophy was transported through the city in a colourful convoy which featured UEFA EURO 2012 mascots Slavek and Slavko. The parade took the cup past the new National Stadium Warsaw and included a stopover at the Children's Hospital where gifts were distributed to young patients.
After the city parade, the EURO trophy was formally handed over to the deputy mayor of Warsaw, Jacek Wojciechowicz. The Henri Delaunay Cup will now go on public display at Plac Defilad on Saturday and Sunday, with visitors invited to come along and have their photo taken with the famous prize between 10.00 and 20.00CET each day.
Friday's inaugural events also comprised a media conference at the Palace of Culture, attended by Warsaw mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz Waltz, UEFA EURO 2012 ambassador Andrzej Szarmach, UEFA EURO 2000 winner Christian Karembeu, Friend of EURO Muniek Staszczyk as well as UEFA operations director Martin Kallen and tournament director for Poland, Adam Olkowicz.
Former Poland striker Andrzej Szarmach, who was present at all the curtain-raising activities, said: "Everywhere I go in Poland I can sense the growing excitement. I am sure the EURO will be a huge and fantastic event for Poland. This trophy tour is a sign that the tournament is very close, and people can see that the party is close to getting started."
Christian Karembeu, who lifted the cup as a midfielder with France 12 years ago, said: "I am proud to be here. I am happy to see this trophy again because it is very important for me."
Visitors to Plac Defilad this weekend can enjoy a full entertainment programme, with the attractions on offer including a film of highlights from past EURO tournaments, football games on a mini-pitch, skills competitions and freestyle footballers.
In addition, a limited number of tickets for finals matches can be won by fans through various football-related contests. Weather permitting, a 35m-high hot air balloon in the shape of the Henri Delaunay Cup will also be inflated close to the display location.
After its exciting kick-off in Warsaw, the trophy will then tour further Polish cities in Gdansk, Poznan, Wroclaw, Lodz, Krakow and Katowice, before embarking on a trip to seven Ukrainian venues.
Martin Kallen said: "It is something special to show the trophy to the public. Many famous footballers lifted it in the past and now everyone has the chance to get close to it and even to take a picture with it."
Do not forget that visitors to the UEFA EURO 2012 Follow the Trophy tour can download their photos free of charge. Just enter your photo code to download your picture and share it with friends. Even if you do not make it to an event you can star in your own unique movie which you can share via email or Facebook.
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