Monday 25 July 2016, 14:24

Russian volunteers ready for the World Cup after EURO experience

20 Russian volunteers from 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Volunteer Centres spent over a month helping out organisers at the recently concluded UEFA EURO 2016 in France. They tested themselves and picked up vital experience ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 World Cup, undertaking a wide variety of roles, from media services and operations to working on the ticketing programme.

Overall, 16 women and four young men from seven Russia 2018 host cities – Ekaterinburg, Kazan, Moscow, Samara, St. Petersburg, Sochi and Saransk – volunteered in France during the tournament. The Russian volunteers were based in eight venues hosting the EUROs: Lens, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse, Saint-Etienne and Saint-Denis in Paris.

Some of them shared their impressions of being in France and assisting in the delivery of a major football tournament with

“Tournaments of this scale are a celebration for all the countries involved,” explained Nikita Strunin from Moscow, who assisted with the activation of the EURO mascot Super Victor in Toulouse. “The role I was given added even more emotions to this celebration. Super Victor was the most popular figure at every match, everybody wanted to take photos with him, hug him and have a chat.

“I had access to every stand at any time because the mascot is always in contact with the fans. We had a lot of fun getting the crowd to do a Mexican wave. It didn't always work out but when it did, it was an amazing sight to see!”

Anna Niskovskikh from Ekaterinburg went to Nice where she volunteered for the media services team helping out journalists and photographers. “Being at EURO 2016 was an unbelievable opportunity, and I was on the receiving end of it”, said Anna. “I'm grateful to myself for randomly deciding to take up French in my first year at university.

“I didn't know how complex the organisation around football is. There's so much to do and you're just amazed at where people get the energy. But it becomes clear at the end when you see all the work you've got through and you're delighted that it was all done well. Then you start feeling more energised, enthusiastic and willing to do something even better next time.”

The team of Russian volunteers will be hoping to use their newly acquired experience and skills on home soil at the next FIFA Confederations Cup kicking off in less than a year, as well as in the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

“Of course, that is the plan,” said Strunin. “I think that now I can go for the role of team leader of the volunteers; I've got the experience after all. I'd like to support the opening ceremony and the show before the final, although for sure I'll just be pleased to contribute again as a volunteer, no matter in what capacity.”