Thursday 23 February 2023, 19:00

No barriers for volunteers at Australia & New Zealand 2023

  • This week’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Play-Off Tournament proved a success on and off the field

  • The tournament not only produced three final qualifiers but also served as an off-field test event

  • shines a light on a couple of volunteers for Australia & New Zealand 2023

The inaugural edition of the Play-Off Tournament for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ proved to be an enormous success. On the field a range of new star players arose, not just from the three victorious nations – Haiti, Panama and Portugal – but from all ten participating nations. But a new celebrity came to prominence off the field, one who became enormously popular with players and supporters alike. This star, though, has four legs and dark fur. Romy the guide dog is 2023 Women’s World Cup volunteer Lisa Reid’s constant companion. Romy even has her own accreditation and, adorably, her own volunteers’ uniform! Lisa and Romy have been working over the past week with FIFA’s Sustainability and Human Rights team, assisting testing stadium routes and pathways in Auckland / Tamaki Makaurau to provide the best possible accessibility access come July. Also volunteering in Auckland / Tamaki Makaurau is wheelchair-user Jen Trask. Both Lisa and Jen were determined to be part of the tournament, and they both had a productive and enjoyable week.

Partially blind, Lisa (and Romy) volunteered at last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup and is revelling in the experience of helping and meeting people. “I love the fact it (volunteering with FIFA) is open to everybody, no barriers and I thought it would be a wonderful thing to be a part of,” said Lisa. “I think it is fantastic that FIFA have opened the volunteer positions up for someone such as myself. “Like all the volunteers I have something to offer. I love being able to volunteer and that it means I can showcase equality. “It is hard to put into words just how amazing having Romy by my side is. She loves being busy, being around people and meeting people.” “She is everything in my eyes, my best buddy, my companion and is incredibly loyal. I have always said there is no two-legged person that could give me what my gorgeous four-legged one does.

2023 FIFA Women's World Cup volunteer Jen Trask and colleagues

Like Lisa, Jen only recently started volunteering at major events, starting with the Women’s Rugby World Cup last year. Jen, who has been in a wheelchair for 21 years following a car crash, is a team leader among the volunteers and has been involved in a number of activities over the past week, including assisting with spectator entry. “It is very rewarding and very satisfying being able to help other people and being able to give back,” Jen said. “We have a couple of quieter ones in our team and this has really helped them grow. “Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed it and is having a great time so far. If there is a job I can do, I’m happy to do it.” With the Play-Off Tournament successfully completed, the next step is the 32-nation football jamboree in July. “Having the opportunity to help is so amazing,” Lisa adds. “It means so much and welcoming people is the best thing ever. Romy and I can’t wait for 20th of July.” Supporters heading to New Zealand for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup should keep an eye out for Romy. One gets the sense she will be in for even more special attention in July and August when the world’s focus turns to Australia & New Zealand 2023. For ticketing information please visit regularly.

2023 FIFA Women's World Cup volunteer Lisa Reid and her guide dog Romy