On 1 June, all Host Cities of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ hosted a festival coinciding with one of the most important milestones of the tournament: the beginning of volunteer recruitment for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017.
Alongside the launch of the recruitment programme in Moscow at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino were both present, flashmobs, relay races, football matches and more took place.
FIFA.com recounts the events, in which a central role was played by one of the heroes of the future tournament: the prospective volunteers.
*The city of *Volgograd presented its new ambassador on 1 June, Oleg Veretennikov, a legend of Vologograd's FC Rotor. Veretennikov took part in a football match played with members from the local 2018 World Cup Volunteer Centre, alongside past and present Rotor players. The assistant director of the centre, Vladimir Makarychev, revealed that on the first day of the recruitment campaign in Volgograd, around 2,000 candidates registered to be volunteers.
The 2018 World Cup Volunteer Centre in Ekaterinburg, meanwhile, accepted around 400 applications on the first day. According to the centre's director Aleksandr Antimonov, the work of the centre is moving to the stage of continuous communication with the prospective volunteers on a practically round-the-clock basis.
In the Avenue of Flags at the World Student Games Village in Kazan, the local volunteers made direct contact with Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don and Sochi. Kazan’s citizens greeted the participants of the satellite link-up with the traditional cry of: “Who's a volunteer? I'm a volunteer!” The representative of the Kazan Volunteers, Timur Tufetulov, along with the head of the Volunteer Centre Aida Ziyatdinova, and the celebrated water polo player and silver medallist from the Olympic Games in Sydney, Irek Zinnurov confirmed: “Kazan is completely ready for the start of the campaign.”
In the Kaliningrad region, the Vice-Chairman of the regional government, Aleksandr Rolbinov, marked the symbolic start of the volunteer selection process. The 2018 World Cup Volunteer Centre in Kaliningrad and the Kaliningrad 2018 Management organised a festival with performances of football freestyle, drummers and cheerleading, as well as a demonstration football match.
The 2018 World Cup volunteer programme was also given a ceremonial start in Nizhny Novgorod near the walls of the Kremlin. Volunteers with experience of working at the Olympics in Sochi, the World Student Games in Kazan, and other major events gathered together. Among them were many ‘silver’ volunteers, people of more advanced years who also expect to be in the ranks of the volunteers for the forthcoming World Cup.
The crowd was welcomed by former players from the Russian football squad, Dmitri Cheryshev and Dmitri Bulykin, both ambassadors of the Host City. Foreign students were also included in the launch of the Volunteer Programme, with Jose Rodriguez from Ecuador explaining why he wants to be a volunteer: “I've been living in Nizhny Novgorod for a long time and I’ve seen beyond many stereotypes I once held. I love Russia and its culture. I want to open it up for them and do as much as possible for the organisation of the football festival in Nizhny Novgorod.”
Elsewhere, the governor of the Rostov region, Vasily Golubev, was the guest of honour at the festival in the building of the Don State Technical University, on the campus of which Rostov-on-Don's Volunteer Centre has been set up. He stressed that every one of the region’s residents should become a volunteer in their own way by helping guests from other cities and countries to enter into the spirit of the football, and of the Cossacks.
In Samara, the city's ambassador, the accordionist Sergei Voitenko, and the First Deputy Head of Samara's city district, Viktor Kudryashov, signed their autographs on a football before joining future 2018 World Cup volunteers in counting down the final moments. True to Samara's cosmic heritage, they greeted the opening of the registration for prospective volunteers with a friendly: “Lift Off!”
“Being a volunteer is really cool, it is prestigious and honourable,” said Voitenko. “I myself gladly joined your team by becoming an ambassador. Together, let’s advance the World Cup and football in our region, and beyond its borders.”
Saint Petersburg also marked the start of the 2018 World Cup volunteer recruitment campaign with the announcement of a new Host City ambassador. It was a role taken by the illustrious actor, singer and football fan, Mikhail Boyarsky, a passionate follower of Zenit Saint Petersburg. Alongside the First Deputy-Governor of the city council Vladimir Kirillov, Boyarsky greeted the prospective volunteers at the ceremony, which took place at the city's Volunteer Centre on the Neva river.
Elsewhere,* more than a thousand signed up in the first day of applications for 2018 World Cup volunteers in *Saransk. As revealed by Aleksey Nemov, the director of the Saransk 2018 organisational committee, among those wishing to sign up were not only students, but members of the older generation, too. Saransk's ambassador, Aleksey Pleshachkov, actively participated in the events in this city, including playing football with the prospective volunteers, visiting an orphanage and pressing the symbolic button to start the recruitment of the volunteers. In honour of the event in Saransk, they are laying the foundations of an avenue with the handprints of the Russia 2018 organisers.
In the sea port of Sochi, city leaders alongside sportspeople and volunteers gathered to participate in the satellite link-up with Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Kazan, and Nizhny Novgorod. The guests at the event in Sochi also watched a football tournament and a programme of festivities.
Check out pictures from the events at our Facebook gallery here.