In July 2012 while volunteering at the 19th International AIDS Conference, I met an activist from Cameroon who had a lot to share about his experience volunteering for South Africa 2010; I was intrigued and immediately set up a google alert to be notified when applications opened for Brazil 2014. The wait wasn’t long and I put in my bid two months later; as soon as the announcement was made. The same application was used for the Confederations Cup and the World Cup but I elected not to participate in the training for Confederations Cup and as a result I was not considered for that event.
The next step was initial online training – an overview of FIFA and the World Cup, including information on the venues and host cities as well as the basics of volunteering. There was also an optional training element that dealt with “themes of social legacy” such as diversity, ethics, conflict resolution, leadership and problem solving. I did not make it through most of these elective courses as they were only offered in Portuguese. The online training and evaluation also included an assessment of language skills; I completed an online test of both my English and Spanish proficiency. This helped the organizing committee to better allocate volunteers to an area of work.
After the training was complete, it was time to schedule my Skype interview. After carefully analyzing my calendar for the next month, I picked a date thirty days away. I had completely forgotten about the interview and was not physically prepared. I answered the call with video not knowing who was on the line, don’t ever do this! When I heard the Brazilian accent, I immediately realized this was the interview. My hair was in its most natural form and my not-quite-an-Afro tuft was still in its fresh-off-the-pillow state but I couldn’t just cut the video off midstream so I smiled and carried on. It turned out to be a great interview, more like a conversation about my skills- especially my interpersonal skills- and my interest in Brazil and the tournament. The interviewer didn’t care about my hair, thankfully.
After successfully completing the interview, I indicated my availability and was soon after presented with an offer to be a Media Volunteer in Manaus. I was happy to receive my first choice of assignment in the city I most desired to visit and immediately accepted. Jamaicans still require a visa to enter Brazil for any reason so the last step of my journey was applying for one1 , which I did as soon as I received the accreditation letter from the World Cup’s organizing committee. The US$20 fee was waived, since I am a volunteer, and the visa took around five business days to process.
So there you have it – I did not need to conduct a seance or join a secret society in order to participate in the World Cup. Most major events, even not-so-major ones, will rely on volunteers to ensure a successful, safe and exciting experience while maximizing the involvement of the local and global community.
I will be flying to Manaus next week and I expect to have a whale of a time, eat feijoada and meet some amazing people. Yes, I’ll keep you posted.
P.S. Just a heads up, the Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and they will start accepting applications for volunteers on the 28th of August, 2014.
- i visited Brazil in December but the visas are only valid for three months. Bummer. [↩]