“This is the first time that the FIFA World Cup is being hosted in Africa, and I had to be a part of that,” said 42 year-old Nigerian Emmanuel Omoroga, a national living in South Africa, at the first day of volunteer training for the 2010 FIFA World Cup at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg today.
Omoroga is one of 2,200 volunteers who will be stationed at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium for the duration of the tournament. This is the stadium where Omoroga’s countrymen, Nigeria, will meet South American giants Argentina on 12 June in one of the most anticipated matches of the group stage. Ellis Park will also host the last Quarter Final of the competition.
"This is the first time this tournament is going to be hosted in Africa, with six countries coming from Africa, including Nigeria, and I wanted to help in welcoming the world to Africa. It will be great to see the Nigerian team playing at Ellis Park, I am lucky to be there. I never thought that would happen," said Omoroga.
Omoroga is also excited by the prospect of being a part of the inner workings of the FIFA World Cup. “It is a big organisational challenge, and I will learn a lot seeing how it comes together, it doesn't get bigger than this.”
The weekend-long programme will see the volunteers introduced to the general training and philosophy necessary to prepare them for working in the organisational structures of the tournament. The volunteers will also be trained in their individual functional areas, such as administration, transport and media.
“I received an email with all the details, and I knew I wanted to be a part of this,” says 30 year-old Sharon Banda. “Meeting people from all over the world and showing them how great Africa is.”
Banda will be working in the administration section of the Ellis Park stadium, an area she is comfortable in, already being employed as an Administration Assistant in Johannesburg.
Lawrence Langer is a German national, living in South Africa and working in community development. “I help disadvantaged youth through soccer development, so when I saw the advert for the Football for Hope volunteers I had to apply”
“I experienced Germany's World Cup, and it was amazing how people opened up in the excitement of the event. With initiatives like the Football for Hope we can ensure that this tournament benefits ordinary South Africans, bringing the World Cup into their lives."
Already volunteering in the South African Police Service in Vereeniging, Pulane Sefatsa is ready to help out in Ellis Park during the tournament. “I just want to be a part of history, helping people to enjoy Africa and South Africa. I can't wait to tell my kids how I was a part of the World Cup, as a proud South African.”
The original 67,999 applications, from 170 countries, have been vetted through a round of interviews held earlier this year. The successful applicants now make up the 15,000 Organising Committee volunteers and the 3,000 volunteers for the Host Cities and the Football for Hope tournament.
Besides the training taking place in Johannesburg for Ellis Park stadium this weekend, there is another contingent of volunteers being inducted in Nelspruit. All the volunteers across the country will receive their initial training over the next month.
Currently the international volunteer contingent are being interviewed in South African embassies across the globe, and those who are selected will be trained via the internet.