Volunteering was the main theme of the FIFA Confederations Cup daily media briefing on Thursday 27 June, at the Estadio do Maracana. In order to explain the entire selection process and give details of the work carried out by the 5,652 volunteers in place at the competition, the Head of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Local Organising Committee’s (LOC) Volunteer Programme, Rodrigo Hermida, took part in the briefing.

Alongside him were Bebeto, who is a member of the LOC Management Board on a volunteer basis, as well as fellow volunteers Omprakash Mundra from India and Brazilian Lourenco Menezes – both of whom had interesting background stories to tell. Mediating proceedings were FIFA Head of Media Pekka Odriozola and LOC Communications Director Saint Clair Milesi.    

Revealing some figures regarding the Volunteer Programme, Hermida told the assembled media that, on matchdays, there has been an 80 per cent attendance rate from volunteers while, from the aforementioned total of 5,652 volunteers, 2,429 (43 per cent) are women.

In terms of volunteers’ backgrounds, 256 hail from outside Brazil – with Colombia leading the way with 35 representatives. In turn, it is the field of Spectator Services that has employed most volunteers, with 1,732 people spread across the six FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Host Cities.

“These people have been doing such a sensational job that they even managed to get one of the national teams (Tahiti) dancing frevo (a traditional Pernambuco dance),” said Hermida.

“They’re living proof of the legacy that a competition such as the FIFA Confederations Cup can leave the country. We carry out training sessions, competency work and we put faith in people. We need them to spread the word about everything they’re going through, so that others realise just how good it is to have this experience,” he concluded.

One of the most experienced volunteers at Brazil 2013 is 63-year-old Munda, who has a steelworks back in India. The businessman spent some 4,000 US Dollars to come to Rio de Janeiro and work in Hospitality at the Maracana.

Nor is it the first time that Omu, as he is affectionately known by his colleagues, has volunteered at a major event. Indeed, his first taste of volunteering came back at the Asian Games in 1982 and since then has featured a host of other sporting showpieces, including the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece and the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

“Without volunteers, these events just couldn’t happen,” said Omu, who employs nearly 300 workers at his factory. “Being a volunteer has inspired me to travel the world. It’s really nice to learn about other countries’ cultures and religions, as well as sharing gastronomic experiences.”

Like Omu, Brazilian volunteer Menezes also spared no effort to become a volunteer and gain a place at Fortaleza’s Estadio Castelao. His journey from the city of Assu, in Rio Grande do Norte state, to the house where he was staying in Fortaleza took on epic proportions, thanks in large measure to obstacles including a lack of funds, problems with the bus taking him to the city and a broken mobile phone.

“I should have got to Fortaleza by 14h, but I didn’t get there until 21h. Nobody else thought that I’d make it,” said the clearly thrilled Potiguar (a native of Rio Grande do Norte state). “As I told her about all the setbacks that I was facing, my mother said it was God’s way of telling me not to go. But I made a commitment and I’ve no regrets. And look at me now, I’m in Rio de Janeiro!”

In the record books as officially the first volunteer of Brazil 2013 and Brazil 2014, Bebeto had this to say: “It’s a job that’s about giving, about helping your fellow man,” he said. “It’s about doing everything with love. I’m very proud of them all and the work they’re doing.”

As a thank-you for all the work carried out, every volunteer at this year’s FIFA Confederations Cup will be given a medal and a diploma following the final game in their respective Host Cities.