In just a few weeks, Qatar will host the World Cup for the first time. An estimated 1.5 million fans will travel to the country to witness some of the world’s best players compete for football’s ultimate prize. This World Cup, however, is about more than just the players. Thousands of people have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to put this tournament together, including over 20,000 Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 Volunteer from 160 countries eager to take part in the world’s largest sporting event.
As Gheorge Grigorean explains, many volunteers in Doha want to give back to the country they call home.
“I’ve lived in Qatar for 15 years. I’ve benefited from the genuine hospitality that Qatar has to offer, and now I’m in a position to give back to others what has been given to me.”
Rufaro Makambira-Chindalo is also looking forward to meeting hundreds of international volunteers.
“I learn a lot more about people of other nationalities, and they learn a lot about me. So, through volunteering, I’ve made a lot of friends, and many of them are now like family to me.”
For many volunteers, this is their first chance to see some of the world’s best footballers in person. Fans of the Champions League and Europa League regularly see the continent’s best players travel across the continent to compete in Europe’s most prestigious competitions.
However, for football fans in the Middle East and much of Asia, seeing players like Ronaldo, Messi, and Mbappe in person is a huge novelty, and in some cases, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me,” volunteer Muhamed Shahid says. “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to volunteer at another World Cup, and this way, I’ll be able to see dream players like Messi and Neymar.”
All these players will come, and basically, by being a volunteer, you are part of the tournament too. You are the face of the tournament.
Volunteers must wait to find out which department they will be assigned to after signing up. The real work begins then. An extensive training programme began earlier this year at the Doha Exhibition Centre. Hundreds of volunteers visit the vast facility every day for seminars, team-building exercises, and in-depth education about their roles when the matches begin.
Following the ‘four pillars’ of matchday volunteering is a key component of the training. Making the best possible fan experience at matches begins with these fundamentals.
“The first pillar is that we welcome the fans,” Kelly Johnstone, Workforce & Training manager at the DEC, explained. “The volunteers are the first faces fans see when they arrive at a stadium, so they’re hugely important.”
“The second is that we provide them with a wealth of information. So if you have any questions like ‘where can I find toilets?’ or ‘how do I get into the stadium?’, our volunteers will be able to answer them. The other pillars are that we inform and excite them about stadium and match policies. We’ll get fans involved with foam fingers, dancing, high-fives, and other activities.”
The training sessions are designed to ensure that volunteers are prepared to handle any situation that may arise while on shift. And that fans find their presence in stadiums extremely useful.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 Volunteer programme is just one piece of the puzzle that Qatar is assembling in preparation for the World Cup next month. With over 1.5 million fans expected in the country during the tournament, ready to fill stadiums, metro stations, fan zones, and other venues, the role of volunteers is critical. They are the first point of contact for fans in Doha who need information or have questions. But the volunteers are ready for an experience that will provide them with life-long skills and friendships, as well as the satisfaction of being a part of the world’s largest sporting event.