- The tournament involved over 600 volunteers.
- Volunteers came from all walks of life.
- Before the tournament, volunteers provided training.
When the final whistle blew between Colombia and Spain, determining the winner of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022TM, it marked the end of the tournament’s playing action, which began on 11 October. Away from the cameras, volunteers at Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium were putting the finishing touches on the post-match presentation ceremony. This is just one example of how, for the volunteers who had been involved with the tournament long before the first whistle blew, their work did not end when the final whistle blew.
From over 7,000 people who applied to be a part of the tournament, approximately 650 volunteers were chosen. Volunteers at all three venues received extensive training and collaborated closely with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) to ensure that all key deliverables were met.
Working under the supervision of the LOC’s Volunteer Management Team and supported by the FIFA Volunteer Management Department, the majority of them were drawn to the 20-day tournament by the opportunity to be close to the sporting action, combined with a lifelong passion for football. “I love football so much that if you asked me what my last wish before death would be, I would say to play a game of football.” So there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity,” said Solomon Ogba, 23, when asked why he decided to volunteer for the tournament at Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium. Solomon grew up loving football in football-crazy Nigeria before moving to India for higher education at the age of 19. Ogba, a nursing student from Navi Mumbai, had just graduated and was planning to move to North America or Europe for further studies when the opportunity presented itself. However, the tournament has caused Ogba to reflect. “After working here, I am 100% interested in working in football if the opportunity arises,” he added.
“He, too, has reasons to be enchanted by this world. “I believe that working as a volunteer in a tournament like this helps you develop cooperation and communication skills.” I’ve seen younger volunteers working hard to improve their skills. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he explained.
Swati Gada, 50, agreed with Ogba after volunteering in Goa, one of three host cities for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022. Gada’s love affair with sports began when she was in school, and she has been living away from her family in Mumbai to participate in this tournament.
Gada, a cricket fan, found opportunities to play the game when she was younger extremely limited. That, however, did not dampen Gada’s passion for sports, and after marriage, she took it upon herself to train young girls around her in a variety of sports. She has not only trained and encouraged young girls to participate in sports over the last decade, but she has also organized local tournaments for them. She is currently enrolled in a sports management degree and learned about the opportunity to volunteer for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022 here. “If I had been asked, I would have gone to Bhubaneswar as well,” Gada said, emphasizing how eager she was to work with the tournament.
“Overall, the experience has been fantastic.” There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to make such tournaments possible that I was unaware of before, and it’s wonderful to be a part of it now. “It’s been fantastic learning from the younger volunteers at the venue,” she said of her experience. FIFA’s volunteer program allows people from all walks of life to participate in its tournaments and learn from FIFA officials. Participants not only leave with lifelong memories, but they also get to see the sporting action up close and personal.
At the conclusion of a successful tournament, volunteers gather at Goa’s Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Kimberly Fernandez, a professional footballer, saw the opportunity to be a part of the first FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup in India as an unmissable one, especially after volunteering at the men’s event five years ago. Due to her ongoing Masters degree in sports management, she was unable to participate in the tournament full-time this year. “I did want to be involved in some way with such a historic tournament, which is why I volunteered at the Navi Mumbai venue with the Competitions Team,” Fernandez, who co-founded an organization that encourages young women to participate in sports, said. “We were grateful to have such a dedicated team of volunteers supporting the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022,” FIFA Volunteer Coordinator Amra Kubat said of her experience with the tournament’s volunteers. With their smiles and positive attitude, they truly brought the energy and passion, putting in countless hours to help us deliver the tournament.”
“Volunteers are the heartbeat of all FIFA tournaments,” Kubat concluded, “and we would like to thank them for their enthusiasm and contributions.”