“Hi!”, “how are you?”, “thank you” and “please” – international volunteer candidates will soon be able to say these words in Russian thanks to a special course developed by the Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC) in conjunction with the Pushkin State Russian Institute.

On 10 February, a free online course in Russian was launched for foreigners who have applied to volunteer at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. Roughly 50,000 foreigners from 189 countries around the world expressed an interest in helping out with the organisation of these tournaments in Russia, which is 27 per cent of the total number of volunteer candidates.

A special section has been set up for international volunteers on the Education in Russian portal. “First of all, the Pushkin Institute is reaching a new and interesting audience in football volunteers,” explained the rector of the Pushkin State Russian Institute, Margarita Rusetskaya. “We need to teach Russian via modern means, and the new opportunities afforded by the Internet allow us to do this.”

“Volunteer Programme smashed the record for the number of applications in FIFA World Cup history,” said the CEO of the LOC Alexey Sorokin. “In total, 176,870 people applied to take part, with almost a third of all applicants from abroad.”

The presentation of the education project at the Pushkin Institute was attended by the Head of the Department of the World Cup implementation Programme of the Ministry of Sport Svetlana Mironova, Deputy Minister of Education and Science Veniamin Kaganov, Russia 2018 Ambassador Sergei Belogolovtsev, Director of Volunteer Relations at the LOC Tatyana Gomzyakova and Rusetskaya. Gomzyakova also updated those present about the progress of implementing the Volunteer Programme and the next step, training the volunteers.

Lorenzo Goicochea Morales has been fascinated by Russia from an early age, ever since Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. He went through his interview to be a volunteer at Russia 2018 recently.

"Russian plays a huge role in my life: I used to teach it in Peru and Switzerland, while I live and work in Russia nowadays," Morales revealed. "I'm sure the World Cup here will proceed fantastically; it will be an amazing forum. Hundreds of thousands of guests will come here and being able to speak Russian will help us organise a fantastic tournament!"

"Being part of the hosting of the Confederations Cup and World Cup is a huge honour and joy,"  Belogolovtsev remarked. "I really envy these guys who are in with a chance of being volunteers at these tournaments. I'm sure they'll be trained really well and will welcome our guests with open arms; they will help to host a peaceful, safe, memorable and amazing World Cup!"

Some applicants have already been through their interviews at the 15 Volunteer Centres established in all 11 Russia 2018 Host Cities. The next stage is selecting and training the volunteers. The selection process for the FIFA Confederations Cup will be over by the end of the first quarter of 2017, while training for this tournament starts in the second quarter of this year.

The Volunteer Campaign was launched on 1 June 2016 by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino. More than 5,500 volunteers will be involved in the Confederations Cup and more than 15,000 will take part at the World Cup.

The presentation was brought to a close with volunteer candidates from abroad reading some verses of Pushkin in Russian.