Volunteer and make a difference
While the stars at UEFA EURO 2012 make the headlines, away from the media glare thousands of volunteers will be helping make sure the tournament passes without a hitch. The success of UEFA EURO 2012 will not depend solely on the players, but also on the individuals across the two host nations – and further afield – who will roll up their sleeves and selflessly give their time to be part of the biggest sporting event ever held in Poland and Ukraine.
Volunteers have long been a key component of UEFA competitions, with tournaments benefiting from their local knowledge and expertise. Volunteers in turn are enriched by the experience, forming friendships, learning new skills and making memories they will keep with them forever. Volunteers will again provide a crucial service at UEFA EURO 2012 where over 5,500 will be sourced to work alongside UEFA's staff in a range of important roles.
UEFA may have the experience of staging events on the scale of UEFA EURO 2012, but it is the volunteers on the grounds who give each tournament its unique flavour and personality. They are in many cases the visible face of the tournament and it is their enthusiasm that makes the difference and the occasion so special.
"Volunteering is an extraordinary adventure. I encourage everyone to get involved in the official UEFA EURO 2012 Volunteers Programme,” says Natalia Partyka, a Polish table tennis player, double Paralympics’ champion, repeated medal winner of Paralympics Championships and a Friend of UEFA EURO 2012. “Not only is the tournament a big football celebration but also a chance to contribute to friendly and hospitable atmosphere during the event. So ‘join the action’ through UEFA EURO 2012 Volunteers Programme!"
Ukrainian showman, TV host and Friend of UEFA EURO 2012 Oleksandr Pedan also encouraged everyone to get involved: “Volunteering is mostly about helping people. Using the opportunity to participate in UEFA EURO 2012 Volunteer Program you can help yourself to open up your talents, get new experience and diversify your everyday life. Use your chance to create history together with notable people from different European countries. Enjoy UEFA EURO 2012 and know that without you it is simply impossible”.
The volunteer project is one of the largest features of UEFA EURO 2012 and is unique in that people give up their time without pay for a period that can range from just a few days to over two months. Self-development and passion for the sport are among the key motivational factors as well as pride in acting as an ambassador for their country. While volunteers may not be financially rewarded, many will receive professional training depending on their role, and all will gain from working within an inspiring international team and from valuable work experience. Learning about true sporting values and real team ethic are also key components of the experience.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old (on 1st March 2012) and speak at least conversational English, but otherwise positions are available to people with a wide range of backgrounds, from students keen to learn to older members of society looking to share their experience for the benefit of others. Volunteers from corporate backgrounds, meanwhile, can lend their particular expertise to the cause. Disabled volunteers will also be able to contribute to the success of the tournament by applying their skills in specific work areas. There is not one typical volunteer, but the experience they will live surely is.
“I recently had the chance to admire the work of volunteers during the Special Olympics European Summer Games in Poland. If somebody still has doubts about getting involved in volunteering, he or she should listen to those who did not hesitate to help the disabled sportsmen. I will also never forget the wonderful volunteers during the Olympic Games in Sydney who sacrificed their valuable time to help me perform. They undoubtedly contributed to the two gold medals I won in Australia,” says Robert Korzeniowski, Olympic Champion and a Friend of UEFA EURO 2012. “I believe that the UEFA EURO 2012 volunteers will display the most beautiful tradition of Polish and Ukrainian hospitality and that the players and their fans will remember them in the same way as I remember the Australians.”
Recruitment begins in mid-June with positions available to suit all interests and talents. Opportunities are available in 20 operational areas; from safety and security to transport, hospitality and media services, the roles cover all aspects of the tournament and will provide a fascinating insight into how such a huge event is run.
There were 4,800 volunteers from 70 nations in Austria and Switzerland and it is a measure of just how positive the experience was that 95% said they would like to do it again. Those interested in getting involved can apply through the UEFA EURO 2012 Volunteers section on UEFA.com between 14 June and 30 September 2011. Interviews will be held between September and November in all eight host cities, with confirmation of positions revealed before the end of the year. Training takes place between March and May 2012 before the hard work – and plenty of fun – begins.
Manuel Rainer who worked as a technical support volunteer in Klagenfurt says: "I got to know people from around the world. We created a large community and lived the spirit of UEFA EURO 2008. I started in mid-May 2008 to help during the preparation phase and worked until late June. We built the large areas of IT infrastructure in the stadium and at the branch offices. Our job was varied and exciting. As an Austrian I enjoyed being a member of this multicultural team. We worked hard, had fun, spent all our spare time together and became good friends. I had the time of my life during UEFA EURO 2008 and I strongly encourage you to do the same as it is really worth it!”
To apply for the UEFA EURO 2012™ Volunteers Programme, please click here.
Please note that to become a volunteer you must be at least 18 on 1st March 2012. That means that applicants born after 1st March 1994 will not be taken into account.