Tuesday 01 August 2023, 00:00

Josh Perry: "The FIFA Women's World Cup has given me more confidence”

  • Josh Perry has Cerebral Palsy and has been working as a Media Operations & Broadcast volunteer

  • The Arsenal fan received Jackie Groenen’s Dutch shirt following their opener against Portugal

  • FIFA Women’s World experience is helping JP learn how he manages his own NGO

Over 300 volunteers have been supporting the matches for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Dunedin/Ōtepoti. One of them is Josh Perry, who has a special story to tell. JP, as he likes to be known, is a wheelchair user because of his cerebral palsy. Embodying the tournament’s call to Unite for Inclusion, he is a well-respected member of the Media Operations team in the southern most venue to ever host a FIFA World Cup event.

Josh Perry and fellow Media Ops volunteers in Dunedin/Ōtepoti

During matches at Dunedin Stadium, the 31-year-old has filled several Media Operations roles; managing the photographers on the pitch, assisting media in the mixed zone where players are interviewed after matches and helping media at press conferences. “This whole experience has just been absolutely amazing,” says JP, who was born in Melbourne, but moved to Aotearoa New Zealand at a young age. “Especially in the mixed zone, the noise from all the cameras clicking was incredible. It was just going off,” grins the Dunedin man who was gifted a match shirt by Dutch star Jackie Groenen after their match against Portugal.

Media Ops volunteer Josh Perry (JP) with Jackie Groenen's shirt from Netherlands v Portugal

The ardent Arsenal fan was not going to miss being part of a World Cup only a few blocks from his own flat but was also keen to learn about running big events and media. “I have been running my own non-profit organisation for disabled people, Enabling Love and Friendship, so I hope I can use what I learn here for my NGO,” explains JP, whose organisation has been running for nearly five years with over 250 members all over Aotearoa New Zealand. “I run it with support from my parents. I have already learned so much on how I could run the organisation more efficiently,” says the volunteer who started the NGO after completing his Diploma in Marketing at Otago Polytechnic.

Josh Perry, FIFA volunteer in Dunedin/Ōtepoti gives the thumbs-up

“It has been an eye-opener to see how FIFA runs an event like this and especially how they collaborate with the volunteers. We are also all volunteers in our organisation, so there is a lot of ideas I can use after the World Cup.” Perry had special praise for his fellow volunteers in Dunedin/Ōtepoti for being so welcoming and supportive. “The first few days were quite hard, and I felt a bit out of my depth, but with the support of the others I quickly learned what my role was. We have a great team,” says the man who is not shy of a challenge. “You have to put yourself out there if you want to learn new things, and my work at the World Cup has given me a lot more confidence,” says JP.

The Dunedin volunteer has been fortunate to be in touching distance of the players on the field for some matches, and as a lifelong football fan has been astonished by the skill level he has seen. “I just can’t believe how much class these players have, how fast they move and how hard they hit the ball.” He admits that the FIFA Women’s World Cup will leave a void in his life when the event moves on from Dunedin/Ōtepoti but has already set his sights on more events. “Next year I will be volunteering at the New Zealand Golf Open and I definitely want to be part of the next men’s World Cup in 2026.”