Thursday 29 September 2022, 14:00

Training underway for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ volunteers

  • Official training begins for 20,000-strong volunteer workforce

  • Mix of face-to-face and online training modules provide 1,300+ hours of learning catered to each volunteer’s role and availability

  • Programme set to boost volunteering culture in Qatar

With the memory of a festive orientation event at Lusail Stadium still fresh in their minds, 20,000 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ volunteers have embarked on the next important stage in their journey: getting down to the serious work of learning and preparing for their tournament roles.

The task of bringing together the largest volunteer force in Qatar’s history began in March with an exhaustive screening, testing and interview process, evaluating the best candidates from 420,000 applicants from around the world. The selected volunteers represent a spectacularly diverse mix of 160 nationalities, drawn from all walks of life, ranging in age from 18 to 77, sharing one common goal of delivering the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Middle East and Arab world.

Rasha Al-Qarni, Workforce and Administration Director for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ LLC, addressed the key significance of reaching the training milestone: “It’s like entering university and starting a new career at the same time. This is the crucial time when the volunteers begin to understand the massive scale of the event and their individual responsibilities. We try to balance this by providing them the skills and resources they need to perform their duties, and just as importantly, we want each volunteer to have the feeling that they are part of a 20,000-member family. A big team with one goal and one heart.”

The colourful Volunteer Centre based at Doha Exhibition Centre in Katara, previously the site where all 58,000 recruitment interviews were conducted, now serves as the friendly focal point and home base for volunteer activities. Open daily from 9:00 to 21:30 and 14:00 to 21:30 on Fridays, it’s here, within the expansive classroom spaces and clubhouse atmosphere, that volunteers meet face-to-face with trainers and team members to begin their all-important training phase, with up to 750 eager volunteers enrolled per day.

Training underway for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ volunteers

Because of the diverse range of roles, functions and topics to be covered, an extensive training curriculum was created after years of development and collaboration between FIFA and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) across 45 functional areas of the tournament to prepare trainees for any of the 30 roles they will fulfil as official FIFA World Cup™ volunteers. The resulting volunteer training system is robust, interactive and varied. It combines face-to-face instruction, e-learning, hands-on workshops, role-play and in-venue training, covering general topics such as cultural sensitivity and health and safety, as well as technical areas such as stadium operations and accreditation.

FIFA Director of Services Lisa Pennington said, “To develop a training system to support 20,000 volunteers working across every functional area of the tournament was a challenge, but the innovative e-learning platform gave us a program that was both diverse and flexible. From previous World Cups, we found that volunteers were most grateful for the ability to explore and refresh their knowledge and the online modules support this.”

The central e-learning platform lets volunteers track their goals and progress and pursue optional learning modules of interest. It also allows the 5,000 international volunteers still abroad to keep pace with general learning and share in some of the face-to-face activities.

However, the volunteer training journey is not only about lessons and homework. Cozy seating, free refreshments and a casual vibe make it unsurprising to find volunteers happily socialising and lounging about before and after instruction. Once registered, trainees are welcomed to an immersive walk-through installation that simulates the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ volunteer journey, celebrating football, fans and shared milestones.

Training underway for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ volunteers

Tarindu Jayadev, a 25-year-old volunteer from Sri Lanka, said of the training: “I thought it would be overwhelming, the amount of stuff we need to cover. But the atmosphere is upbeat and the instructors are really enthusiastic and everyone gets involved so you can feel their passion. The online lessons are also good because you get to go at your own pace, especially after you start to dig into your specialties and discover things you never knew about the organisation and coordination that goes on behind the scenes.”

From September to October, trainees at the Volunteer Centre are scheduled according to their functional roles and receive general and role-specific training, with additional 15- to 30-minute modules conducted via the e-learning platform. Team leaders engage in special workshop-style training, focusing on areas like motivation and effective communication. Each volunteer commits to working at least 10 shifts throughout the tournament, with many who are involved in support functions, such as workforce, training and accreditation, already deployed logging shifts and building valuable work experience.

As sustainability remains one of the key pillars supporting the delivery of this edition of the FIFA World Cup™, Nasser Al-Mogaoiseeb, Volunteer Strategy Manager (SC), spoke about the lasting impact of the volunteer programme in general and the benefits of training a new generation of talented volunteers.

“Volunteers are the heart and soul, the spirit of the tournament. Their influence happens on a micro-level—with a smile, kind words, welcoming gestures—but their impact will be measured on the macro-level, through the overall atmosphere, success and legacy of the tournament. We hope that in training such a talented bunch, their influence will be felt beyond the tournament by expanding the culture of volunteerism in Qatar to encompass all walks of life as a positive force of nature.”

All told, the Volunteer Hub will host more than 300 in-person training sessions stretching over 1,300 hours through to the end of October. From November, trainees will move in teams to their assigned stadiums or venues for venue-specific training, which continues through the lead-up to the big kick-off on 20 November.