Because of one cup of sweet tea a 7-year-old Atlanta boy will get the trip of a lifetime.
Nigel Shoyoye will walk onto the field with the U.S. soccer team before it takes on Ghana in its opening game of the World Cup on June 16 in Brazil.
“It’s just a beautiful thing to see your child be blessed with such incredibly positive opportunities,” mother Deanna said. “We try to expose our children to all the world has to offer. For his first international trip to be to on this scale, and to represent our family and the Atlanta community, is a blessing.”
Nigel plays for Olympic Atlanta Soccer Club, a new league in south Fulton.
It was at a practice on Thursday that he was surprised by fast-food character Ronald McDonald with the news that he was one of 25 children from the U.S. going to Brazil as a player ambassador.
Deanna said she has rarely seen Nigel speechless.
“He couldn’t get past Brazil,” she said. “He knows what World Cup is. It’s hard for any 7-year-old to grasp how big the event is on a global scale.”
Nigel knows a little bit about Brazil. He knows they speak Portuguese. He knows one of his favorite movie characters is from there.
“I’ve seen a movie about Brazil, called Rio,” he said. “There are a lot of crazy animals. There’s a cockatoo that raps and has my name.”
The trip came about because Deanna was thirsty.
Shopping at a Wal-Mart in Lithia Springs, she ducked into a McDonald’s to buy a sweet tea. On the cup was a sweepstakes contest.
Deanna loves sweepstakes.
She and husband Marvin went to the website and entered a few times.
Life took over and they forgot about the contest.
A few weeks later Marvin got a call.
They had won.
During the next three-four weeks, they just needed to take care of two things: update Nigel’s passport, and work with McDonald’s to plan the trip without Nigel finding out.
They were able to pull it off…barely.
In the car one day, he heard his mother on the phone telling someone that, “He’s in the car.”
Nigel, a clever boy who reads on a seventh-grade level, quickly reasoned he was the only other “he” in the car.
“I thought something was up, but wasn’t sure yet,” he said.
Deanna and Marvin were able to keep everything under wraps.
Some of their family showed up to watch the moment because not only is it exciting, but also because soccer has played a big part in the Shoyoye’s lives.
Nigel’s grandfather, Abimbola otherwise known as “Big Daddy,” came from Nigeria to the U.S. to play college soccer at Akron. Nigel said Big Daddy is still his favorite player, with his dad and former Chelsea player Samuel Eto’o tied for second.
Nigel and Marvin will leave for Brazil on June 12. Nigel said he can’t wait to see the hotels and eat the food in Brazil. He likes that it is exotic (seventh-grade level, remember). He’s learning about the U.S. soccer team. He wants to be a goalie one day, so maybe he will get to hold Tim Howard’s hand when he walks onto the field.
With the confidence of youth, he said he won’t be nervous.
Deanna said the trip is a blessing because Nigel works hard and always try to stays positive.
“I love for him to see how big the world is at 7 years old,” she said. “Go forward in your life and dream big.”