It’s sometimes said, that sport events without volunteers just wouldn’t be able to happen. Probably it’s an overstatement, because probably it could. But… From whatever reason we see very rarely that it would happen totally without J
Volunteers are important links of every smaller and bigger event. But what is this volunteering all about?
Few words about how it really looks in practice.
Sport volunteering is quite a specific branch of volunteering. Most often it has non-recurring nature, and, in a nutshell, it consists of supporting sport event organizers. Volunteers are mainly necessary during the event and big availability is then essential. Rarely it’s possible to just jump in to help for an hour. Sometimes volunteers also help before and after the event, in arena preparations or equipment uninstallation. Such possibility and availability is marked separately in the application form.
I think that even people watching sport regularly are not able to imagine exactly how it looks from an organizational side (it’s basically much more complex than it looks;) and how multiple actions are done by workers and volunteers. They do differ of course and depend on the sport, type and size of the event, but there are few standard roles and tasks. These most typical are:
- Information/ Public support
Usually it is the biggest group. Main duties are helping supporters in the arena, showing correct places, information about transport possibilities. Often such volunteers work also at airports, stations, hotels or even streets in the city center.
Everyone, who participates in any event (organisers, guests, journalists, gastronomy points workers, volunteers and also players) has to wear accreditation. Volunteers who support this chapter participate in preparation and issuing.
- Media Office
This includes helping organise media office, delivery of starting lists, results and protocols to journalists as well as helping the organization of press conferences
- Volunteers Center
Organisation and support in work of all volunteers groups. Handing out equipment, clothes, meals and communication with volunteers.
- Competition Office
Transport of starting lists and protocols, preparation of players zone, help in stats.
Help in preparation and leading zone for special guests.
- Field/ Tracks Zone
Depending on sport: brining balls, cleaning pitch, tracks preparation etc.
- Local Organising Committe and ceremonies
Generic help in logistics (accommodation, transport, marketing) and help in preparation of decoration and pregames ceremonies (for example flags and prices preparation, directing players)
Help in logistics, but also as drivers.
- Team Guide/Host/Liason Officer
A Team Guide acts a connection between the team and organisers.
It’s not easy role, and spectrum of tasks is really wide. It’s not always done by volunteers. More about this, very interesting role, in new posts.
Practical information largely depend on the type of event. For big events as Olympic Games or football World Cup recruitment process starts even two years before. For smaller events, single games or friendly tournaments, it starts a couple of weeks before. It even happened that only few days before. The recruitment process is not always led directly by organizers– sometimes is outsourced to organisations or volunteers centers, or even recruitment company.
The beginning of recruitment is announced on the event/ organizer website, alternatively on their social media profiles. It’s worth to follow them not to miss out on deadlines. So firstly, you need to know that some tournament will at all take place, where and when. It’s easier to monitor the biggest events, a particular sport discipline you are interested in or particular place you live close by. If you are more flexible and willing to search for various disciplines or places, it’s more difficult to keep track and easy to miss out.
Often we do receive information about accepting us for volunteering, but all the details related to our role or any help in accommodation come later. It may be problematic when taking decision to go/ not to go or when organizing trip itself. Well, from my experience it seems that having the patience and the willingness to act last minute method are pretty valuableJ
Before coming to the event, we should already know which tasks we have been assigned to. Such choice is based on candidate preferences (question in application form) and experience and knowledge.
There are tasks which can be performed without problems without any experience, good will and short training is enough. Others require more knowledge and familiarity with the topic.
What you can count on from organizer side
Depending on type of the event, time of duration, sport federation or country. Almost always you will attend information meeting with short training. You get leader or coordinator support and accreditation- to enter the arena and zones not available for supporters. And of course meal during working time.
Clothes for work: t-shirt, maybe jumper or jacket, if you are working outside. These are often very nice and useful things, which could be used in the future.
Ticket for public transport, passes for less popular parts of tournament, snacks, backpack or other jackets can happen too.
Is it possible to see games/competition? Well, as always… dependsJ mostly on tasks. Full game rather not, but there is usually no problem with part. Every coordinator tries to set tasks or rota in such a way that at least one half/one set volunteers would see.
Do you get accommodation? Rarely. There is such possibility, but not really often. Sometimes there is also special accommodation organized, where you have to pay, but less than standard hostels or hotels in the particular town.
At the longer tournaments also additional integration activities for volunteers can appear, group visiting, karaoke or good-bye party.
However, such bonuses can be expected mostly during big events, with well-organized volunteering. Football events can be example of very professionally prepared volunteering. It does sometimes happen tough, that recruitment of volunteers, even in high rank events, is done just by other volunteers, so you can’t expect full professional organization.
Don’t get scared or give up. A bit of flexibility and get on the road. Sport volunteering is very interesting, bringing a lot of advantages idea for spending free time or just holidays.