x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Closing ceremony of Fifa U17 World Cup promises to be a lavish display

Fifa closing ceremony set to be a thrilling spectacle for fans and will honour both the host nation and those competing in the final.

Manuela Velazquez is surrounded by confetti while she stands in a plastic ball preparing for the final dress rehearsal of the Fifa U7 World Cup closing ceremony. Silvia Razgova / The National
Manuela Velazquez is surrounded by confetti while she stands in a plastic ball preparing for the final dress rehearsal of the Fifa U7 World Cup closing ceremony. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // Three weeks of nail-biting football will reach its thrilling climax tomorrow, when the teams line up for the final of the Fifa Under 17 World Cup.

Nigeria will take on Mexico at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, the venue where the tournament kicked off on October 17.

The crowd will be treated to a lavish closing ceremony before the players take to the pitch.

Last month’s opening ceremony, which was broadcast live on Al Jazeera TV, featured 204 artists and volunteers, 24 balloons each measuring 2.5 metres, and a fireworks display.

Special guests included Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and Jerome Valcke, Fifa’s secretary general, as well as several foreign dignitaries.

The closing ceremony promises to be equally impressive. It will begin at 7.38pm, with the final kicking off at 8pm.

“Our team has been preparing for weeks and we’re thrilled to have gotten the opportunity to partake in this milestone for both Fifa and the UAE,” said Julia Modesti, the artistic director at Circo De Bakuza (CDB) and the organiser of both ceremonies. The company is an international creative agency based in Montreal, Canada, with a sister office in Paris.

“The idea was to have a continuity between the opening and closing ceremony,” she said. “The idea in the closing is to use the themes of the pearl and the star.

“This is a theme we are pushing, as all of these players are the rising stars of football. We hope to show their ascension, rise and progress because these players can become the stars of the future.

“We try to find a theme that works universally, and then we do our best to adapt to whoever the final teams will be.

“There will be between 100 and 130 people on the field. We have professional dancers as well as the volunteers and we have been working really hard with the choreographers. It has been great working with an international team and the locals as well.

“It is a real challenge. It is part of the game and it is always fast on the creative and production side, so we have been working hard.”

Ms Modesti said the ceremony would also showcase the next host country.

“During the show at the closing we are also, importantly, representing the next country that will host the next World Cup,” she said. “It is a major part to represent Chile, in this case, who will host the tournament in 2015.”

“It is an honour and privilege to work on these very prestigious events in the UAE,” said Roshan Soomarchun, CDB’s vice president. “We are thankful to our clients, partners and Emiratis for their openness, professionalism and continued support.”

Vincent Drolet, the president and executive producer of CDB, said staging such elaborate shows presented a huge challenge.

“We only had a month to prepare, with over 200 participants and a lot of volunteers,” he said.

“But we also had help from Flash Entertainment on the logistical side and our local partner Aya Communications helped with the tender process. We also had around 25 people from our own international team.

“The biggest challenge is working with the volunteers and getting them to rehearse with us, with such short timing.

“For the closing ceremony we only know the final teams one day before the ceremony, so to represent them well is always a last-minute challenge.

“We want to represent the hosting country and the different countries. The World Cup is a competition so, obviously, the competitive factor needs to be represented as well.”

Another challenge for the organising team is ensuring that their show does not damage the pitch. The show must leave the grass pristine so as to not impede play during the all-important final.

The ceremony is sure to end with a bang, but what exactly is in store for the fans was being kept under wraps.

“You’ll just have to come along as see for yourself,” said Ms Modesti.