Monday 29 May 2023, 03:00

Argentinian volunteers back in action

• Three volunteers helping to make Argentina 2023 a success • Trio were all at Qatar 2022 to see Argentina lift the FIFA World Cup • “We want to bring the essence of what it is to be Argentinian to this World Cup.” If you had told Guadalupe, Tomas and Facundo a couple of months ago that in May 2023 they would be catching up with each other again in La Plata, they would most probably have thought that it would be for a reunion of Argentinian volunteers who had attended the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

That reunion might have taken the form of a dinner where they could share stories about the ties they forged in Doha, the difficult moments they overcame together and, of course, recall those golden memories of seeing their country become world champions on 18 December 2022. Life is full of surprises, however, and the fates have conspired to bring them back together for another month of volunteering, this time at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™.

Being in Qatar was a unique experience where I got to discover a new culture and take a deep dive into the sports world through a mega event like the FIFA World Cup,” said Facundo Ferro. Fellow volunteer Tomas Vicente added: “It was truly unforgettable, my first experience with FIFA at my first World Cup, watching my team win the World Cup for the first time in my life, and seeing [Lionel] Messi on the pitch for the first time. It really was a dream come true.” As for Guadalupe Camurati, she hailed the experience of being there with all the other volunteers: “It was amazing to be in Qatar representing my country along with 5,000 international volunteers, and it exceeded all my work and life expectations.”

Volunteers pose for a photo during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023

It is for all those reasons that when Argentina was called upon at the last minute to host the 2023 U-20 World Cup and a message popped up on their phones asking them to volunteer for the tournament, they all jumped at the opportunity to be at the heart of an international tournament again, especially one being held on home soil. “I didn’t hesitate for a second to apply for La Plata because I live in Buenos Aires, which is an hour away,” said Guadalupe, before expressing a view her two co-volunteers shared. “I had to take a few planes to fly halfway across the world to Qatar, so there was no way I wasn’t going to make the effort to travel when it’s happening here in my country.”

Volunteers during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023

The three volunteers are doing their bit to ensure that Argentina 2023 meets the highest standards expected of an international competition of its scale. Facundo lends a helping hand to photographers on the pitch, shepherding them in a cordon where they can take photos of the teams before matches, a task he will also perform at the trophy presentation that will follow the final. Tomas is on the pitch, providing a link between the fourth official and the match director with the Control/Info Timing Area, passing on information on what is happening on the pitch.

Volunteers during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023

For her part, Guadalupe hands out teamsheets to the press and makes sure reporters have everything they need to be able to do their jobs in the mixed zone, where players give their post-match interviews.

FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™

Volunteers in Numbers

Volunteers supporting across the four host cities (La Plata, Mendoza, Santiago del Estero, San Juan) and Buenos Aires

Volunteers in each of the host cities, plus 50 in Buenos Aires

Volunteers are supporting 17 functional areas (marketing, transport, competitions, team services, media, etc.)

Places where they support: stadiums, hotels, airports and training sites

The three have not had it easy to get where they are today and have had to make sacrifices to fulfil their dreams. “I’ve put my career on hold,” said Guadalupe. “I’m trying to find a way to keep on working in the spare time I have when I’m not on duty at the stadium.” Facundo is also juggling things: “I had to bring my final school exams forward so I could go to Qatar, and now I’ve taken a week off so I can throw myself into this.”

Volunteers during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023

Their sacrifices are paying dividends, however, as Tomas explained: “As a student with not much work experience to my name, these kinds of volunteering gigs help me build up experience on my CV so I can one day work at events like this.” As well as being beneficial in terms of career prospects, volunteering is also rewarding on a personal level. In the last six months, the trio have created memories that represent a turning point in their lives. “It’s a really friendly environment,” commented Guadalupe. “It’s almost as if we’ve known each other all our lives and not these last three days only.”

Volunteers pose for a photo during the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023

As well as the adrenalin running through their veins and a determination to make sure everything runs like clockwork, the three volunteers are also proud to be on home ground and intent on showcasing Argentina at its very best. “I want to do my bit so that the World Cup goes off without a hitch and that the people who come to Argentina go away thinking highly of the place,” said Tomas. “We want to bring the essence of what it is to be Argentinian: warmth, friendliness and our gift for being great hosts.” With the tournament well and truly up and running at four venues across the country, the dream of seeing Argentina lift another world title is well and truly alive. “I’d love us to win a whole heap of World Cups,” laughed Guadalupe. “I think us Argentinian volunteers in Qatar gave them the luck they needed to become world champions.” “Let’s make it seven [world titles in this category]!” said Facundo, having the final word.