McDonalds staff from Lowestoft and Pakefield prepare to head off to Brazil
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The eyes of the nation will be fixed firmly on Brazil next month.
But while millions of football fans cheer on England at the World Cup, a group of women from the east coast will also be in South America battling for global glory.
After being crowned national champions in March, the seven McDonald's employees went one better last week by winning a tournament in Germany.
Team Wicks – made up of staff at the company's restaurants in Lowestoft, Pakefield, Beccles and Great Yarmouth – not only won the European McDonald's Cup; their victory secured them a place in the competition's world finals in Rio De Janeiro next month.
As a result, Team Wicks will have the honour of representing Europe in the global McDonald's Cup finals which are being held at the stadium of FC Botofogo at the end of June.
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The team, which consists of captain Gemma Farman, who works at the Beccles McDonald's Restaurant; Sue-Lyn King, Nikki Wigg and Vicki Turner, from the Pakefield McDonald's; Mary Colledge and Kerri Stephenson, from the Lowestoft McDonald's, and Sophie Martin, from the Great Yarmouth McDonald's, secured their place in the world finals by beating the champions of Denmark 1-0 last Thursday in Nuremberg.
After progressing through a tense qualifying stage, which saw the Danish team top their group, Team Wicks went on to triumph in the final with a goal scored by Sophie Martin.
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Her superb shot was also judged the goal of the tournament.
Former England international Owen Hargreaves presented Team Wicks with their European winner's medals and wished them well with their bid to become world champions.
Elated to have secured their ticket to Brazil, Gemma, said: 'We are absolutely ecstatic to have made it to Rio. To have won the UK and now the European titles is absolutely amazing. We are so excited about the prospect of the tournament in Rio and can't wait for what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.'
McDonald's operations consultant, David Wicks, who manages the restaurants where all the team members work, said: 'The team have made everyone, including me, so incredibly proud over the past couple of months.
'It is clear to see that they have really enjoyed the thrill of being part of a winning team and I'm delighted that they now stand every chance of becoming world champions in South America.'
McDonald's director of football, Sir Geoff Hurst, who famously scored a hat-trick when England won the World Cup at Wembley in 1966, said: 'I watched the UK women's team play at St George's Park in March and they were playing some top quality football. To have gone on to European success, beating a strong Danish team, is a wonderful achievement.
'I wish Team Wicks the very best of luck in Brazil.'
The McDonald's Cup is a five-a-side football tournament for McDonald's staff worldwide. More than 700 sides entered the UK competition at the qualifying stage in January, with 24 regional winners making it to the national finals in March.
Team Wicks became UK champions at the FA's National Football Centre in Burton with a 1-0 victory in the final.