Volunteering is a priceless experience

Anush Yepremyan

Three years ago, Ukraine and Poland hosted the 2012 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012, which was the 14th European Championship for men’s national football teams. This was a huge deal since first, soccer is number one sport in Europe; second, the benefits the event brought to the countries that were hosting it.

I had an opportunity to be part of this historic event. I was chosen to be a volunteer for the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). I can surely say that it was one of the epic experiences I ever had.

Just imagine, you are in the heart of the championship where the eyes of the soccer world are. You witness how much effort it takes to organize matches of that size. It is just so fascinating, especially if you have that much passion about soccer as I do.

My dad used to play soccer when he was young. He is truly into soccer. When my sister and I were small, he would take us to the soccer stadium and teach us different trick with the ball. You can tell he really wanted to have a boy, but instead he had two girls. However, it didn’t stop him. So you can only imagine how delightful my dad was when he found out that I will be part of EURO.

There was an amusing incident that happened to me during my volunteering. When the championship started, volunteers who knew English were helping to deal with foreigners. We had fans from all over the world pretty much, but the Netherlands fans are the best. They all had very unique and fun costumes. They even brought an orange bus. So I was helping the stewards on the gates with fans from Netherlands, and I was trying to explain to a very tall guy from Netherlands that he is not allowed to have marihuana on the stadium, and in general, it is illegal in Ukraine. The guy looked very confused. He took it out from his pocket and innocently say, “But this is for smoking.” I thought, “Exactly for that reason you cannot have it in here.” I wonder how he brought it to Ukraine. Anyways, he agreed not to bring it to the stadium, so he asked me if he could leave it in the locker. It was crazy.

We had a great trainings help by representatives of UEFA who were very knowledgeable and professional people, and really were experts at their jobs. I personally learned a lot. We were given uniform from Adidas and a backpack- amazing and comfortable uniform. We were provided with meals and drinks while on duty, and had access to volunteer center. We had a volunteer center where all volunteers could have fun and watch soccer.

I would highly recommend you to apply for volunteering program for UEFA EURO 2016, which will take place in France. So if you would like to see the world, be in the heart of soccer, and have unique experience, you should definitely try to volunteer. And at the end, you can say that you were part of something big.