Have you had experience with volunteering? Have you personally been a volunteer?
Yes. I have been a volunteer since I came to Lviv in 2004. And I have been the coordinator of the volunteers when we opened the stadium last autumn when we worked with 1500 volunteers. Starting from 2008 we organized one or two big events each month within the project to promote EURO 2012 and football. We were the first who organized the biggest fanzone in Ukraine, where there were about 15,000 people. It was the first time in Ukraine that about 100 volunteers were involved in such an event and it was also my responsibility.
Yes, it was all of those mentioned. We had posters big boards and city lights. And we also had a big information campaign – open lectures which I delivered in Lviv’s main universities. Finally, we had some information on the official website. 1872 volunteers applied to our programme.
Which are the qualifications required to become a volunteer?
The basic requirement is enough free time in the summer and readiness to be involved for at least ten days or three weeks. The second biggest requirement is English. We would also need some German, Danish and Portuguese, but a common language is English. Some of the volunteers also speak German, Portuguese and Danish.
On the application form, applicants could choose three departments in which they would like to work. During the interview we try to test them at least at one mentioned. It was important for us if, for example, you want to work at the media center as a translator, you have to study foreign languages at university. The same is, if you want to help us as ajournalist, you have to have experience or theoretical knowledge about journalism.
How many volunteers do you have?
We are going to involve 900 volunteers, but this number also includes extra volunteers which we call „jokers“. In general, on match days we will involve 800 volunteers, plus 100 “jokers” just in case we need more. Volunteers will be involved in almost 10 departments. The biggest department will be information and welcome support: to give them necessary information and to provide them with some maps, guides and advices. The second big department is fanzone, there the volunteers will help our stewards at the entrances and of course we will have additional eyes through the territory in case of emergency or if someone needs medical help.
The third and the largest department is the media centre. Besides the media centre in the stadium we will also have a host city media centre, where journalists, who don’t have an accreditation for the stadium, can work or journalists from local newspapers and also those journalists who will decide to stay in the city after the match. The volunteers will work there as translators and provide information at the welcome desk.
Our police is unable to learn English in such a short time, and that is why our volunteers will help them as translators. The same will be done in medical institutions. Also we will have a volunteer centre with nutrition, entertainment program and as a resting place for the volunteers.
Are all volunteers students?
Yes, in general 90 percent are students, between 19-21 years old. There are also younger ones, because according to our law on volunteering you can be 16 if your parents agree to it. We have two old persons and the majority of our volunteers are girls.
Could you guess why?
I think for girls it is more natural to help someone, because usually girls are mothers so they can help without any monetary reward. For men it is more to be head of the family and to take care of the family. Of course in our century to care about someone is difficult without money. I think for girls it is easier to break this barrier.
What did the volunteers tell you about their motivation to participate in the programme?
There were different motivations, but the main ones are to improve language skills, to meet new people and to be part of EURO 2012. Volunteers from abroad would like to repeat their experiences, which in most cases they already had during EURO 2008 or World Cup 2010.
Would you say it improves the volunteers‘ job perspectives, that they participate in the project?
You know, it’s Ukraine, it’s another country. I know from some other European countries that you can count on a good job, if you have volunteer experience. But we got a law on volunteering only last May and actually our employers don’t care about volunteer experience. I really do hope that something will change after EURO 2012 and that it will be one of the effects of EURO 2012, but now I don’t think that anyone cares about your volunteer experience like about your qualification, skills or knowledge of foreign languages. We did not have such big events where we involved volunteers and taught them something.
You mentioned the program to prepare the volunteers. What is it going to be like, how long is it going to be, which kinds of courses or training are you going to set up?
We divided our trainings into two parts. The first part is called general training. During this training we will provide volunteers with general information about the tournament, the city and responsibilities. Also safety and security issues, medical help, intercultural communication. The second part is called special trainings. That means if somebody will work at the airport they will go to the airport and visit the place where they will be working. And then we will discuss specific tasks there. It is the same case with the media center.
Are you coworking with other cities, like Donetsk or Charkiw?
Unfortunately, we didn’t have one national coordinator for a while. Now the situation in Ukraine is that each city has its own coordinator, its own problems and its own budget. That is why in some cities a volunteer gets more, for example shoes, which they do not get in other cities like Lviv. That depends on the budget.
Do you think, with regard to promotion, it would be better to work in coordination with other cities?
In 2008 maybe yes, but not now. The situation changed during these years. At that time we would have liked to have such a national coordinator, but now I already have my team. Now if we had a very good national coordinator, she would have her own vision and concept and decide to implement it in all cities. It would mean that my work and that of my colleagues from Charkiw, Donetsk and Lviv would be waste of time. During this time I think everyone of us did some work and we already have some results and less than a month to go. Of course, two or three years ago it would have been great to have a national coordinator.
I started to work with Polish cities and our concept is very similar to theirs. You have to understand that in Lviv and in Ukraine we do not have any experience with such kinds of events. Some will say „It’s bad“, some will say „The concept is great“. So, we started to work with the German GIZ and Polish cities, because for me it was better to get advice from someone who really does have experience.
From where do you get the financial support?
From the city budget.The deputies on the city council adopted a law with the budget for the volunteer project and all marketing components of the EURO 2012 in Lviv. It took a lot of time until we received the financial support, before that it was really hard to work in normal order.
Is there any competition between the city’s and UEFA ’s volunteer programme? Or do you cooperate?
No, we don’t cooperate. I would not call it competition, we complement each other. They have competence for VIPs and stadium, while we do not have access there. They welcome VIP guests, transfer them to the hotels. We help visitors and tourists to find everything they need in Lviv. In 2008, when I met with my Polish colleagues, we had the idea to cooperate with UEFA in trainings, because all volunteers have to do the same general things. But UEFA has its own budget for trainings, its own trainers and they rejected this initiative.
How do you see the volunteer structure after EURO 2012?
Probably you already know that we will host the European Basketball Championships in 2015 and now we are applying for the Olympic Games in 2022.
The volunteer programme seems very well prepared. What about Lviv in general – would you as a citizen say Lviv is ready for EURO 2012?
Well, we already opened the stadium, we opened the new terminal at the airport, we have reconstructed many roads, but many are still to be reconstructed and I am not sure it will be done on time. In general yes or no? Let’s be optimistic: Yes! We will see, it is difficult to predict, but we will try to do our best. We understand that we are an other Europe, we are Eastern Europe. We have a different understanding of some standards. But we know about your standards as citizens of Western Europe and we try to meet your demands and expectations. So I hope on July 2nd you will write me that we met your expectations.
Who do you think will become European Champion?
I think … Germany?!
The interview was conducted by Sara Dutch, Artem Gogov, Peter Hartmann and Stephan Merkle