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Volunteer races to rescue

Almost every corner of Minsk reminds us of the forthcoming Ice Hockey World Championship, with preparation works embracing all areas — including volunteering. Regular volunteer, Yegor Zhukovsky, tells us more about these free-will helpers, who always accompany the sporting events.
By Yan Zhur

“I graduated from Minsk’s State Linguistic University and translation is actually my major specialty. At the moment, I’m a part-time student at the Department for Qualification Enhancement and Re-training, at the Belarusian State University’s Journalism Institute — specialising in sports journalism,” the young man tells us, adding, “I began as a volunteer in 2009 and, since then, it’s become my hobby. Every year, I attend major tournaments, and the European Football Championship, hosted by Poland, was my last trip so far (I worked in Wroclaw then). This year, I’ve already participated in the Christmas International Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament (for the Prize of the President of Belarus) as a volunteer-guide for the Canadian team. Of course, I’m now anticipating the World Championship, hosted here in Minsk in May.”

Was it a difficult task to get through to our championship?
I have rich experience and faced not much problems. However, strict demands are placed on volunteers. They need to be communicative, decent, hard-working, diligent and to know foreign languages.

What will your responsibilities be?
I’ll be working as a team guide, and my major responsibility is to accompany the team at all times — to the hotel, training sessions or for a meal. I have to ensure that no problems arouse for the sportsmen. They, as well as other delegation members, should feel comfortable. I need to help them in any situation, however strange that might be.

Actually, volunteers are involved everywhere, and precise scheme of actions is developed. They will help to check tickets, assist journalists, meet guests at the airport and help them check-in at the hotel.

How are you preparing for the championship right now?
Meetings and preliminary preparations have been organised. The recent Christmas International Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament was a part of them. It was announced at all level that the event was a key stage in our preparation.

Did you attempt to join the volunteers at the Sochi Olympics?
I was debating whether to choose Sochi or Minsk. Theoretically, it was possible to attend both events, but volunteers either work or study. Accordingly, it’s hardly possible to take such a long break. As a result, I chose the World Championships, as I wished to help my native country. Moreover, we are not hosting such events regularly. I will have the chance to visit an Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, for example. The only problem would be how to reach it.

Aren’t volunteers provided with accommodation and travel tickets?
Of course not. We travel at our own expense. We may receive an invitation, but would need to cover all costs ourselves. However, Sochi is an exception. An Olympic village has been organised there, with places set aside for volunteers. I love the Sochi volunteer team’s preparation. The Russians sent their young people to Vancouver to generate experience for the Olympics. They also visited London, and have prepared a special programme which will make it possible to develop Olympic skills and generate knowledge (necessary for efficient working), under the guidance of experienced coaches. I think we need to follow this path. There are volunteers who have gone to Sochi. After their return, they will share their experience with the rest of us.
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