Tuesday 21 August 2018, 07:05

All smiles for France 2018 volunteers

  • ​Some 600 volunteers are on duty at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018

  • 160 of them are based in Vannes

  • Their duties include welcoming fans and players alike and more technical tasks

Major competitions such as the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 would not be possible without volunteers doing their bit behind the scenes in welcoming, advising, guiding, supporting and helping people. And they do it all with a smile too.

Step into the volunteers’ centre in Vannes, and you soon see why there is such a good atmosphere at the competition. Colourfully decorated with the flags of the 16 participating nations and that of Brittany, it is home to table football and table tennis tables. Also lining the walls are boards featuring the standings of the match-prediction competition the volunteers have got going and a list of their birthdays. Not surprisingly, they all feel right at home.

FIFA.com spoke to Elodie, Pierre-Yves and Alain, just three of the France 2018 volunteers, and asked them about their experiences at the competition so far.

First name: Elodie Age: 24 Occupation: PE teacher Volunteer’s position: Match organisation (MORG) Hometown: Angers (Maine-et-Loire) Favourite part of it: “Meeting lots of people and being closer to the teams and the action, being able to experience the World Cup from the inside.”

First name: Pierre-Yves Age: 64 Occupation: retired PE teacher Volunteer’s position: “Joker” Hometown: Carnac (Morbihan) Favourite part of it: “The level of involvement of the volunteers. There’s a real passion when there’s a match on and you have a really good time because of it. Everyone’s very committed.”

First name: Alain Age: 46 Occupation: Owner of a technological/robotics/electronics company Volunteer’s position: Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Hometown: Vannes (Morbihan) Favourite part of it: “The opening day and the start of the competition in Vannes. It was special and we also had the satisfaction of seeing it all go off well.”

The first thing that stands out about the three of them is their enthusiasm. Happy to be part of this unique adventure, they are also proud of their commitment. “The first thing for me was the technical side of things and the link with what I do on an everyday basis, and then there’s also the fact that we’re at a high-profile event that’s getting coverage in the media,” said Alain. “There’s also the idea that you’re doing something for your region and town and giving meaning to the event. It’s a chance to help out.”

“We want to make the most of this experience, one that’s right on our doorstep,” added Elodie. “It’s a global event that’s taking place right here. And it’s a girls’ competition too, which is also an attraction.” As for Pierre-Yves, it was a combination of those two factors that appealed to him: “For me it was the two things: the chance to represent a region, to help make it a success; and then there’s the event in itself, women’s sport and the U-20s. We have to promote the development of women’s sport, especially at youth level.”

There are 160 volunteers stationed at Vannes in all, performing a wide variety of tasks. Elodie was fortunate enough to get the position she had been looking for: “I’m involved in organising the matches and our job is to take care of everything to do with the dressing rooms, welcoming the teams, making sure they’re OK and ready to play their matches. We also help out the FIFA doctors with the anti-doping. We go and see the player, tell them they’ve been chosen for testing, and then escort her to the doping room, so she can do what she needs to.”

Alain has a very different role to perform to Elodie, as he explained: “I’m on the ICT team. We make all the technology available so that the photographers and journalists have access to everything they need. To a certain extent we’re the link between the user and the technical service provider.”

For his part, Pierre-Yves is one of the tournament’s famous “jokers”, the volunteers who carry out a whole range of tasks, which vary from one matchday to the next. “I’ve done ticketing, I’ve been an usher, and I’ve also accompanied the match mascots,” he explained. “The organisation makes sure we rotate so we can see a bit of the matches too. Ultimately, we do a little bit of everything. We go where we’re told and we have the kind of fun friends have, because we’re not colleagues here but friends.”

As you might expect, the three volunteers will be sad to see the competition come to an end, having spent the last month in their own little bubble. “In a few days it’ll be all over,” said Alain. “You’d like it to last a little longer, but when it ends we’ll just have to deal with it.” “It’s going to be like the day after a party,” added Pierre-Yves.

Sad as they may be at the tournament’s imminent conclusion, the volunteers have certainly made their mark on France 2018, as Elodie confirmed: “When we go out in the evening and we’re walking down the street, people recognise us. That’s the best possible reward – to be recognised and thanked for the work we’ve done.”