From volunteering to becoming the Head of UEFA EURO 2020 Volunteer Program Budapest
Author: Anett Fodor
I started volunteering at the mega sports events exactly 10 years ago. When I went to the first championship, I had no idea what a long journey was about to commence.
To be honest, some years later still neither. First, it was just great fun, and about collecting amazing memories, but in the following years it turned out to be a successful career path and a profession. In the beginning, I was focusing on swimming events and as the majority of the swimming society’s members were really supportive towards me it took me further and later it led me to other sports as well. Through this journey, I have built up my network and learned what is going on behind the curtains in several sports. I was appointed to more and more responsible volunteering positions starting with coordinating just a few people, then a small group of people, followed by departments with 300 people. But still, it was not a goal that I will be one day a Volunteer Manager in one of Europe’s most popular sporting competition. And here I am.
In 2018 I got a job offer to become the Head of UEFA EURO 2020 Volunteer Program in Budapest. Basically, it means being responsible for more than 1000 people at an event that does not only attracts attention from football-loving Europeans, but it is followed by millions across the globe. And the World is paying attention to it. There is also a hidden challenge in it, not just managing so many people at once, but coordinating a group of 4 people, a group of 20 people and a group of 1050 people that requires different leadership approaches. I am really grateful that volunteering previously gave me experience for leading different sizes of groups.
Moreover, the Hungarian Football Federation has never run a large-scale volunteer program before, so this culture needs to be established from the very first steps. The Europe-wide sporting competition attracted 2500 volunteer applications only in Budapest, and applicants are eager to sacrifice their time, but they also have an expectation to get something back from this experience. The memories that they will take with themselves is the most important part of the volunteer program because this is what they can really call lifetime memories. It is also a great challenge to give always the best from my expertise, my discipline my empathic attitude and after all, my heart to this project.
Volunteers are likely to be also the most active citizens in our society, their education and what impacts them during their volunteer service is important. In addition, we are building a legacy for the federation in Hungary, as they plan to keep active this volunteer community also after the championship. It’s a big responsibility to execute a volunteer program in a successful way, for the organizers and also for the volunteers.
Although it was not my goal to become a volunteer manager, I feel this journey is not even close to its end. This is a continuous career path which hopefully will be thriving for many years more and help to build a better society in my country.
ENGSO Youth is the project partner of the EU funded EYVOL (Empowering Youth Volunteers Through Sport in the Mediterranean Region) project that aims to promote youth sport volunteerism across Europe.
In the upcoming months, ENGSO Youth will share stories of our Young Delegates who have engaged in youth sport volunteerism and gained significant expertise and experience in the field. You can read more about EYVOL at this link.