Members of the FIFA Youth Programme and Volunteer Programme have given insights into their experience at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™ at a special media event held in Vancouver earlier this week. Joining the event was Ball Crew member Alexina Bacchus, Flag Bearer Jahaan Somani and Volunteer Karim Sayani.
The FIFA Youth Programme underlines the importance FIFA places on enabling children to connect with football from an early age, regardless of gender. At this years’ tournament, the Youth Programme provides children with a number of opportunities either as a Player Escort, Flag Bearer or Ball Crew member.
When discussing her position on the Ball Crew, Alexina explained that an orientation day held before the tournament demonstrated to them the importance of making eye contact with the players when you throw them the ball and how to act on the side of the pitch. When asked who she was most excited to see at the tournament, Alexina said: “I’m really excited to see Desiree Scott on the Canadian National team. I think she is the unsung hero on the team and really holds the team together.”
Jahaan Somani holds another position within the FIFA Youth Programme, as a Flag Bearer who leads the players onto the pitch ahead of each match. Describing the feeling of standing in the tunnel ahead of the match, Jahaan said: “It’s really exciting [to be standing in the tunnel before the game]. We are standing with some of the best players in the world and I’ve never had that opportunity before. They are all really nice to us and are smiling and it’s really exciting to be part of such a big event.”
Both girls also expressed the excitement of first walking onto the pitch at the start of the match. “When we are running out of the tunnel going to our spots and all these kids are sticking out their hands asking for high-fives from us, like we are really important too, and it makes you feel so amazing” said Alexina. While Jahaan explained that her biggest smile comes “when the FIFA song starts and we are walking out of the tunnel and we get to see the all the crowds and everyone is watching us walk out. I think that is the best moment and we know that the players are walking right behind us.”
Karim Sayani meanwhile is a Volunteer at the tournament. “Volunteering is a big part of my life and I believe everyone should contribute time when they can to their community,” explained Karim. “I have been a big football fan my whole life, I have two daughters who have been playing football since they were about three and I am big on supporting women’s involvement in sport.”
Further explaining his reasons behind volunteering for this event Karim said, “We have never held an event on a national scale this large, from coast-to-coast, and I though it is a privilege and an honour to have that opportunity to be here. I think it is an outstanding event and I would do it again at a drop of a hat.”
A very strong advocate of women’s sport, Karim feels that this years’ tournament is a great opportunity for Canada, and the global community, to get behind women’s football. “I’ve coached football for 3-4 years with my daughters’ teams and I am huge on the popularity of the sport and the growth for women,” he said. “This is the time for girls and women on an international scale.”