The impact of volunteers at major sporting events
The recent Hockey World League Semi-Final events in Valencia were a huge success.The FIH identified the volunteers as one of the main factors for this success and said that they have been at the core to the smooth, behind-the-scenes organisation of each of the events.
In Valencia, more than 420 people volunteered and helped make it a special event. Most came from near but a few came from far-flung destinations like Mexico, USA and the Netherlands to help out in a variety of roles.
Among them were Dutch duo Joelene and Dewey, both hockey fanatics hailing from the south of the Netherlands who approached the local organising committee to help out as part of their studies in international leisure management.
Joelene said she “wanted to work in Spain and found this event. I was really enthusiastic because I love hockey and organising big events so we contacted the organising committee and they were really interested in having us.”
Her role was to find liaison officers, fellow volunteers who would work with the teams to ensure they had all the necessary information about accommodation, transport and training requests.
The main challenge was to get people with the required language skills for an event featuring 10 nations.
“It was important to find suitable liaisons, to find people with the languages – a German speaker with the German team, a Chinese speaker with the Chinese team – to make it easier for everyone. But, it all worked out.”
Along with Dewey, Joelene had previously volunteered at one-day music events in the Netherlands but said that the organisation of this event was huge.
“You work two and a half weeks non-stop rather than just turn up on the day!”
Dewey worked in the ticketing office and said that, unlike Joelene whose main work was in the build-up to the event, when the action started, life got incredibly busy but she hopes that the tournament achieved its objectives.
“Hockey in the Netherlands is so big while here it is quite small. It’s different but not less fun.”
One of the goals of the event is to increase awareness of hockey in Spain and in Valencia, so we had special packages for people from the city. A lot of schools were invited and they could get free tickets. Hopefully, we were able to help build the sport.”
She says that people in Valencia were really keen to get involved.
“Everyone is really friendly; we had a little party at the start to get together. There are a lot of volunteers, really enthusiastic and it works really well.”
“Even if they don’t know the game, they want to learn, to see it and to try it. I think this event is really helping to increase interest in hockey.”
And the big attraction for the pair proved to be the Spanish lifestyle as temperatures soared up to 30 degrees.
“Of course, how could you not love it? The weather, the sun, the atmosphere, the people – it’s all so nice!”
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