Polished to perfection, the FIFA U-20 World Cup trophy is about to set off on a tour around New Zealand, host country of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015, and Matamata will be among the tour stops.

The glittering trophy – once held aloft by footballing superstars like Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi – will start a nationwide tour at the top of New Zealand’s North Island, before making its way down the country.

The trophy will arrive at the Matamata Domain at 3pm on Monday May 12 and will be there until 5pm.

This is a great opportunity for local sports fans to get up close to and have a photo taken with one of the world’s major sporting trophies.

Matamata Swifts AFC President, Julie Clothier, is delighted the club has been given the opportunity host the trophy for a couple of hours. “This is a big deal for a small club like ours,” says Clothier. “We’re really pleased we’ve been able to help bring the trophy to our community and I hope we see a great turn out at the Domain. We’ll have a few football-related activities on the go as well so there will be plenty of things happening next Monday afternoon.”

The trophy tour begins in Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, before travelling the length and breadth of the country stopping in at towns, schools, host cities – Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin – and other tourist hotspots.

Along with Hamilton and Matamata, seven further venues in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions will play host to the trophy. Ngaruawahia will be the first to welcome the trophy to the region, on Saturday May 10, while it will also head to Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Waitomo, Whakatane, Rotorua and Tauranga.

The trophy will also visit two of the region’s tourist hot spots. It will try to outshine the dazzling ‘One Ring to Rule Them All’ when it calls at The Hobbiton Movie Set, just outside Matamata, and will attempt to out-do the locals at the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves.

The trophy tour, kicking off on May 5, will stop at 50-plus locations on the North and South Islands, before finishing up with a festival of football-related activities in both Wellington and Auckland on May 30 – marking exactly one year until the official start of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015. The feast of football continues into the night on May 30 as the New Zealand All Whites take on South Africa in an international friendly at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium that same evening.

The tour is unique to New Zealand as it is the first time the public have been allowed to see the trophy first hand so far in advance, in an event that is expected to give football fans a taste of the atmosphere, colour and fun that can be experienced when a tournament of this magnitude comes to town.

“With the FIFA World Cup in Brazil kicking off in a few weeks, and our tournament little more than a year away, we wanted to give football fans across the country a chance to get a taste of what is coming and to feel part of the excitement. Kiwis get to see the trophy before the players vying for it do and we think that’s pretty special,” said Dave Beeche, Local Organising Committee CEO FIFA U-20 World Cup NZ 2015.

Waikato & Bay of Plenty tour stops:

May 10: Ngaruawahia United AFC, Centennial Park, Ngaruawahia (8.30 to 10am).
May 10: Hukanui Rototuna FC, Discovery Park, Hamilton (11.30am to 1pm).
May 10: Gower Park, Hamilton (3pm to 6pm).
May 11: Mill Street Park, Hamilton (9am to 12 noon).
May 11: Cambridge FC, John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge (2.30pm to 5pm).
May 12: University of Waikato, Hamilton (8.30am to 11am).
May 12: Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata (1pm to 1.30pm).
May 12: Matamata Swifts AFC, Matamata Domain, Matamata (3pm to 5pm).
May 13: Te Awamutu AFC, Te Awamutu Stadium, Te Awamutu (10.30am to 1pm).
May 13: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waitomo (3.30pm to 4.30pm).
May 28: Whakatane Town AFC, Rex Morpeth Park, Whakatane (3.30pm to 5pm).
May 29: Lake Front Reserve, Rotorua (8am to 12 noon).
May 29: Red Square, Tauranga (2.30pm to 5.30pm).