The people who give of their time to volunteer at major sporting events are a phenomenon and the more than 18,000 people who have worked on the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa are no different said the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee (OC) volunteer manager, Onke Mjo.
Speaking at a media briefing at Soccer City, Mjo said the OC was already grateful for the contributions volunteers have made to the tournament.
“We cannot discuss the volunteers without mentioning their commitment. Normally the World Cup is in summer but this one is winter. We are so grateful to our volunteers who day and day out, even at games which start at 20h30, stand there and work with us at the stadiums ushering people to their seats.”
Two of the volunteers who exemplify the commitment Mjo highlighted are 62 year-old Moris Halevi and 24 year-old Daniel Amapadu.
Halevi, originally born in Turkey but who has lived in South Africa for 38 years, is assigned to IT support at Ellis Park Stadium. He is a former IBM employee and now the owner of his own IT consultancy.
“I grew up chasing a ball,” he said. “In my time that was the only thing you could do for fun. This was a once in a life-time opportunity for me. Never again will I see a World Cup in South Africa.”
Although he is an IT expert Halevi has spent very little time using his skills thanks to the smooth running of systems at the stadium.
“For the last three weeks I have done absolutely nothing. And I will tell you why, because there is absolutely nothing to do,” he joked.
For Amapadu there was never any doubt that he would be part of the tournament.
“This is event ever to be held on the African continent and I told my friends back home I need to be part of this tournament. It is not only for South Africa but for the whole of Africa. This is important for the continent. “
While South Africa’s successful hosting of the World Cup is important for Africa, Amapadu is aware that his countrymen’s performance on the football pitch has become as import and inspiring for the continent.
“I am very proud of my boys. They are playing good football and it is not just for Ghana but for Africa. I can’t wait for them to win the trophy for the rest of Africa,” he said.
Applications for volunteers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup began in July 2009. Over a two month period the OC received a total of 67 999 applications. Interviews were held between February and April this year in South Africa and embassies in 52 countries before the final 18 000 volunteers were chosen.