A special ceremony took place in London on Thursday afternoon to mark the official kick-off of The Ball 2014 – football’s equivalent of the Olympic torch.
The event took place at Battersea Park, scene of a notable ceremonial match 150 years ago on 9 January 1864 to mark the new FA laws involving the first Chairman Arthur Pember and the first Secretary Ebenezer Morley.
The Football Association had been founded at Morley’s prompting on 26 October 1863 and the first game under The FA’s auspices was then played at Limes Field, near Barnes Common on 19 December.
As well as a commemoration of 9 January fixture a century and a half ago by Wandsworth Council and the Friends of Battersea Park, a five-a-side tournament will be held and an address will be given by Richard Tims, the chairman of historic club Sheffield FC.
All eyes, though, will be on the launch of The Ball 2014 on its fantastic journey to the FIFA World Cup this summer.
The ball, made in Brazil, will be guided on its way by a group called Spirit of Football, with the team taking part in education, fundraising, advocacy, press and PR activities for inspiring causes. Tens of thousands of people come in contact with The Ball and sign it along its journey. By the time it gets back to Brazil, The Ball is set to be the most–autographed ball in the history of the sport.
Spirit of Football will accompany the Ball through Europe, North America then into South America before finishing in Brazil - uniting communities and social projects and offering its education programme in schools and NGOs along the way under a common football theme: One Ball, One World.
The Ball's journey...
• England: 9-13 January
• Scotland: 14-16 January
• England: 17-19 January
• Belgium: 19-20 January
• Holland: 20-21 January
• Germany: 21-26 January
• Switzerland: 26-27 January
• Italy: 27-28 January
• France: 28-29 January
• Spain: 29 January – 2 February
• Portugal: 2-5 February
• USA: 5 February – 4 March
• Mexico: 4-14 March
• Guatemala: 14-21 March
• Honduras: 21-29 March
• Nicaragua: 29 March - 6 April
• Costa Rica: 6-14 April
• Panama: 14-18 April
• Colombia: 18-27 April
• Ecuador: 27 Apr - 3 May
• Peru: 3-11 May
• Bolivia: 11-16 May
• Chile: 16-23 May
• Argentina: 23 May 23 – 1 June
• Uruguay: 1-6 June
• Brazil: 6 June: Journey’s End and start of the FIFA World Cup
• 6 June – World Cup Final: The Ball tours Brazil