The volunteer who travelled 10,000 miles

Thailand is one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, with millions making their way to the country’s charming beauty spots every year. But for Brazilian Sthefania Vieira de Lacerda, the fact that the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2012 is being held in Thailand was all the motivation she needed to travel more than 10,000 miles to volunteer at the tournament in which 24 teams will compete for world futsal supremacy.

Sthefania is no stranger to FIFA tournaments. She first worked as a volunteer at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 and two years later travelled to South Africa to do the same at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. But these are just the highlights. Speaking to FIFA.com the 24-year-old Brazilian revealed that she has given her time to a large array of sporting events around the globe.

Although Thailand is far from her homeland, Sthefania was not deterred from jetting off to Bangkok. As she put it, she just had to be “part of this event, after participating in the same tournament four years in Brazil. It's just wonderful to come here.”

Sport is a subject close to Sthefania’s heart. As a student of sports marketing, management and law she considers her volunteer work as a way of gaining useful experience in the field before she graduates: “I study this subject and my course is part of a joint project between FIFA/CIES and my university. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to experience what it means to take part in these events and meet people working in the field.”

I’ve got wonderful memories of the last tournament. It was great, but the best bit was when Brazil won the title. I’ll be supporting them in Thailand.
Sthefania Vieira de Lacerda

“I think I’ve really benefitted,” the sports-mad student continued. “I volunteered for Brazil 2008 and South Africa 2010, and I was in Poland for EURO 2012 and that will all stand me in good stead in Thailand.”

Sthefania cherishes memories of her time at South Africa 2010, where she was fortunate enough to attend the final: “There are no words to describe how I feel about South Africa 2010. It was just incredible to be at the biggest footballing spectacle in the world and the tournament was amazing. I worked inside the stadiums as a greeter and I got the chance to be at the final. It was truly an unforgettable tournament.”

She is quick to thank her parents, who are paying the transport and accommodation costs of her trip to Thailand: “I asked for my family’s assistance to get here and they covered my travel and accommodation expenses. My family have helped me a lot.”

As she waits for the tournament to get underway on Thursday, Sthefania is vocal about her hope that Brazil’s futsal team can add a fifth FIFA World Cup trophy to their collection: “I’ve got wonderful memories of the last tournament. It was great, but the best bit was when Brazil won the title. I’ll be supporting them in Thailand and I hope they can go all the way again.”

Whether or not Brazil manage to do that, one thing is for certain: Sthefania Vieira de Lacerda is going to make the most of her time in Thailand.