Tuesday, August 14. It was a day when everyone taking part in the tournament was free. Even volunteers. However, they decided to spend this time together, actively, at the bowling alley. I decided to join them, and by the way better to meet them. I met a group of people who were quite different from each other, who had one goal: selfless help in organizing the World Championship. They answered my questions in different ways, gave different reasons, examples. But all of them combined one – the willingness to help.

The boss supervises the implementation of each task. Our volunteers also have their mentor. For me, the woman extremely crazy, full of positive energy, which infects her pupils. Magda Kowalska is a great character. The head of all bosses, the queen of all volunteers, which everyone can always count on.

Magda, let me start with a very easy question. Who are the volunteers and what they do during the championships?
Magda: In fact, it is one of the simplest and most obvious, but the most difficult questions, because I could talk for a very long time here. Regarding the practical answer, this is a group of 120 volunteers, mainly students, but also working people or students. People from both Kielce and outside. There are people who are connected with handball, or enthusiasts of this sport, but also those who would like to acquire new experience, ie improve their linguistic skills or possibly acquire new professional experience confirmed by IHF certificate. But there are also people who are simply volunteering during the world championships as a great way to spend their free time on holidays. However, this answer is closer to my heart: Volunteers are fantastic people, smiling, ready to share their time selflessly, do not expect any gratification, are ready to do all the activities, every work to help.

Nobody could have told me who the volunteers really are. Magda described this group in both an official and simple form, from the heart.
One hundred twenty volunteers were divided into 9 areas. Each of them was named and volunteers are working there.
While the volunteers had a great time at the bowling alley, I would take out individual groups and take them to a quieter and more comfortable place where they could tell me everything! I really asked them the same questions. Answers have often differed from each other. Some weren’t easily talking with me, but I managed to get something out of them, any information.
That’s them! Our SUPERHEROS during the Youth World Championships! Ladies and gentlemen! I present to you our best, the most wonderful, beloved, the nicest volunteers in the whole world !!!!

THE TEAMS LEADERS
The first group that decided to talk to me were team leaders. Altogether there are twenty four volunteers in this area, I managed to catch seven musketeers. A group of crazy people who look after the representations of Slovakia, Norway, South Korea, France, China and Tunisia. Often they had to turn into an interpreter, comedian, drag, mentor, comforter or simply to show humanity and calm their charges in a crisis situation. It is this wonderful seven with Julia Oborska (guardian of Slovakia), Karol Grzybczak (Norway), Maciej Pleban (South Korea), Dominik Mielecki (France), Maja Wójcik (Holland), Gosia Glazek (Tunisia), Weronika Gorycka (China) , they decided to share with me her experiences, decisions which were during the tournament, at the same time revealing something from behind-the-corner mysteries of their representations.

Why did you decide to work for free during the world championship?
Julia: When I saw that the world championships will be organized in Kielce, I immediately thought about all these representations from different countries, about this multitude of cultures. And at the same time a great opportunity to practice your English and meet new people.
Karol: I glanced at the calendar. OMG! Already half the holidays. I’ve already got level in the game. What to do next? And that’s why I decided to volunteer. I really wanted to gain new experience.
Maciej: Dad told me about this party. I immediately decided that I had to take part in it for one simple reason. They are world championships! Such a huge party, with so many girls! And secondly, like Julia, I wanted to work on my English.
Dominik: I decided on this voluntary service because after graduation I want to organize, work on sporting events and I wanted to see how it all looks from the inside. I’ve been practising handball for eight years, so I know a little about it. Thanks to this, I can combine work with passion.
Weronika: Last year I was a volunteer during the U21 Men’s Football Championship. I spent a nice time then. Super worked with the team, so I decided it would be nice to experience something similar to do it again.
Kasia: I came to Poland for the holidays, so I thought it would be a great alternative to spend time.

Why have you been team leaders?
Maja: I volunteered for help in three areas, but finally I became the guardian of the team. At the beginning, I did not know what this function would be associated with. I learned only during the training. I was shocked and very upset when I found out that I would have to go to Krakow to pick up my team from the airport. But now I do not regret the decision to become a guardian.
Dominik: I can speak French fluently, and that my pupils do not speak English very well, I have been a salutary help.

Do you have any funny, terrible situation that you experienced with your teams?
Karol: I have a special ritual with my team before each match. I’m kidding a turtle with every girl. One girl, I made a very funny joke. Namely, I pretended to make a turtle with her and in the last moment, I turned my hand in five! (laugh)
Maciej: My Koreans when are very happy they start jumping and clapping.
Maja: And the Dutch women fold their hands before meals. They do not pray then, but their hands are complex.
Dominik: On Monday, one of the players in France hit her nose and we had to go to the hospital. It was not very funny, but from such cooler situations, after every match, on the bus, I make jokes by the microphone, I tell jokes etc. Overall, nothing very special happened yet, but I hope that something will happen, of course to the end of the championships what I will remember and I will be nice to remember. For example, how my French team will receive the gold medal on Sunday.
Weronika: I am happy with small things. The Chinese women started to smile at me, say hello to me. It is very much for them. Previously, they were afraid to look into my eyes. The fact that they started to talk to me boldly means a lot to me.
Kasia: I will definitely remember my first visit to the hospital. The Tunisian physiotherapist was so upset that I did not soothe the injured girl, only his.

What will the championship give you? The fact that you are with these teams and act as volunteers?
Maja: I am sure that we will be well-known figures in the eyes of IHF and we will be able to boast of this in our CV. They will give us experience as well.
Maciek: I am looking for a wife in the team of Chile, Argentina, Hungary and we will see in which countries because I have not seen girls from all teams yet. But I prefer exotic countries. Of course, I `m joking! Overall, the championships will give me international friendships. The doctor of the Korean national team gave me his business card. If I have problems with my knees, I have to go to him. Really!
Dominik: I mainly wanted to gain experience when working in such sports events.
Weronika: Meeting people from other cultures can give us a lot. For example, I learned Chinese, so I can train this language with my team.

Why would not this championship take place without you?
Weronika: It would be very difficult for all teams to organize themselves, know where to go, what to do in a given situation. It works the same way you go to another city and go sightseeing. You do not know what is, where it is and the simplification is that you have a guide. Every team leader at this championship is just such a person for his team.

 

VIP
The next group are people who deal with so-called VIP. They are among the few who can meet celebrities. Aleksandra Mądry, Patryk Suliga and Paweł Szuflik thanks to them our stars can feel special and, above all, learn how to operate a coffee machine!
What do you do at the championships?
Aleksandra: My main occupation is to make sure there are snacks, coffee and tea in the VIP room.
Patryk: I work in the Hall Leginów. I do not have to worry about things like Ola. The catering is responsible for it. I give special bracelets for VIP.
Paweł: We work with people from IHF as well as with PHF. We need to supervise the supply of the VIP sector and the IHF office. Often we help in serving the magical coffee machine. We clean after meals.

Why did you decide to volunteer?
Aleksandra: I wanted to spend some time in the holidays in an interesting and productive way.
Patryk: I was curious about this championship. I wanted to see it all, help in organizing and at the same time have fun. It is much better to be a volunteer than going to work where you are still doing the same. Every day something new happens here, I meet a lot of people, I talk to the players. It’s great!
Paweł: Last year I participated in the U21 European Championship in men’s football. I liked it very much. I wanted to try here too. I’m also interested in handball, so I decided it would be an interesting experience. This tournament has become an ideal opportunity to increase my achievements as a volunteer. So far, I’ve participated in small events, and this one has a global rank!

Why would this tournament not take place without you?
Aleksandra: Sometimes there are situations when we have to help someone even in switching on the magic coffee machine.

What will you share as a volunteer at these championships?
Aleksandra: Certainly a better experience with people. You need to talk to them, help them. The championships will also give us the ability to organize something. There are many small things that need to be dealt with, and we have to deal with them ourselves.

 

ACE / ROTATION
The name of this area sounds very interesting. Handball fans can think that it is associated with one of the positions on the pitch. During the championships, volunteers working in this area do everything. They help everyone, they deal with every problem, they manage (apparently they have the ability to stay in many places at the same time). The secrets of being an ace were revealed to me by Magdalena Pawlik and Aleksandra Raczyńska.

Why did you decide for unselfish help during the championship?
Magdalena: Volunteering is a great way to spend free time, a chance to meet new people, experience a great adventure, be a part of something huge. In this case, the world championship. It is also spending time actively and not in front of the computer. We are happy that we can help with the organization of such an event. The fact that we do it selflessly motivates us.

Why would this event not take place without you?
Aleksandra: We, as the name suggests, are “rotating”, that is, versatile. When it comes to the hall, we do everything. We take care of the water, allotment and keys to the locker room etc. We are the assistants of the hall manager. Without this help, one person, given the size of the event, would not be able to do it.

Did you have any funny situation during your “revolving” work?
Aleksandra: Definitely yes. I remember the most of the one with the representation of Angola who, without knowing English, tried to get along with us.
Magdalena: An additional advantage of the representation of Angola is that they try to learn even basic phrases in Polish. It is very nice when they enter the hall and say “hello” or “Good morning! How do you do?” (of course in Polish). It is very nice that the team that comes from a distant corner of the world wants to identify and learn about our culture. We are all the more pleased that we can cooperate with such positive people. Although the beginnings and attempts to communicate, as mentioned by Ola, were not easy.

 

VOLUNTEER CENTER
In the Hall Legionów, the queen is Mrs Magda, but every kingdom must have its head dominant. In the Hall Politechnika, the real empress is Sylwia Jedynak. Behind her, I asked her a question, in her speech she said everything I wanted to know. She bet me into a cocked hat, so I managed to ask her only one question that completed this great statement! P.S. I have never talked to such a talkative person in my life!

Sylwia: I really do everything and nothing. When it’s needed, I’m in a disposition. There are no impossible things for me and things that I would not do. I deal with, among others spending meals, cleaning floors, and even throwing out rubbish. First of all, I support volunteers to be for them in stressful or unpleasant moments, to comfort them with a good word that they do not break down and remember that volunteering is just fun. It is known when there is work, we have to do it, but we must also approach it with a distance. Everyone knows that we have to do our job well, but at the same time have fun.
Last year I was a volunteer during the U21 European Men’s Football Championship. That’s why I was tempted to take part in this event too. After last year’s tournament, I felt that I just saw myself volunteering. I have the longest holiday of my life. I wrote a matura exam in May, so I prefer to spend my time somehow, rather than sit at home and do nothing. Such volunteering is an ideal way to make new contacts and gain experience. Each event is completely different and that is why volunteering is a great thing!

So this question will be easy for you. Why would not this world championship take place without your sector?
Sylwia: The centre of volunteering is the place where you can come, rest, eat something good, talk to someone else, exchange the day’s experiences. But also to cut off from the noise, matches, to regenerate and return after this moment and continue to act, act and act again. To say at the end of the day, “This day was great, I can not wait for the next one!”. Volunteering is a harmonious group of people, and I am here to support and help them when they have a problem. Without a centre, the volunteer would stay alone with it.

 

MATCH OPERATIONS
One of the most crowded areas by volunteers. Imagine a full hall of spectators, you hold the flag of Poland in your hands and go out into the middle of the pitch. All eyes are directed only at you. At this moment, you are the star! Probably the majority of volunteers who came to this area imagined their work as that. And what’s interesting, they could realize their dreams! This is proved by Szymon Kronowiecki’s words. Additionally, you can see that Szymon belongs to the group of extraordinary volunteers!

Why did you decide to participate in the world championship as a volunteer?
Szymon: I decided to participate in this event for several reasons. First of all, I’ve never been to Kielce. Secondly, I was encouraged by Monika Listkiewicz, manager of this tournament, with whom I have known for several years. And thirdly, I wanted to add another event to my volunteer resume, which has more than eighty events of rank the European and world championships. I hope that soon there will be a so-called “cherry on the top” in the form of my participation as a volunteer in the Winter Olympics.

What do the volunteers who work with you in the area do?
Szymon: The most important moment for us is the opening ceremony of the match, that is, the introduction of the IHF flag and the presentation of the teams together with their national flags. It all takes us about ten to fifteen minutes.
During the matches, we turn into so-called moppers who help the judges keep the pitch in good condition. We make sure that there is no slippage after the fall of any athlete because the wet surface can cause injuries.
We also deal with anti-doping control. We have specially delegated persons for this task, who go together with the controllers to the teams, inform about the control and selection of a given player. Then such a volunteer looks after a given player, it is her “shadow”. It must be with her everywhere, even a few hours. The judges can count on us and they know that we will fulfil our responsibilities in one hundred per cent!

 

HOTELS
Time to bed! Incentive! Hello, where’re my socks ?! These questions in different languages have been repeatedly heard by volunteers who operate in the “Hotels” area during the championships. Angelika Głuszek, who now knows how much weighs sixteen women’s shirts in size from XS to XL, helped in crisis situations while staying in hotels.

What are ‘hoteliers’ doing during the tournament?
Angelika: We have two changes every day. One is from 8 to 15:30, the second is from 15:30 to 23:00. We are watching in hotels where teams are stationed. We give them a lot of information. We also deal with team matters. For example, we collect shirts for washing, we weigh them. We write a list of teams that want to watch a match.

Why did you decide to act during the championship?
Angelika: I started my adventure with the activity as a volunteer in February and since then I have stated that a month without an event in volunteering is a lost month. That’s why I was looking for some events and I came across the world championships. I said that you have to take part in such a huge event because I meet a lot of nice people with whom I will later keep in touch. I also wanted to help in the organization of such a prestigious event.
What will your voluntary service do during the tournament?
Angelika: Above all, a great satisfaction that I could be here. I saw the organization of such an event at the highest level. I could meet a lot of people from around the world, get to know their culture.

 

STATISTICS
Has the player with the number 24 thrown this goal from the right play or from the middle of the field? How many times has the trainer changed? And this penalty throw was already in the sixth or the fifth minute? In the tournament, people who make a statistics were hearing it all the time. In this elite group work Julia Synak, Dorota Janik and Bartosz Cuper.

Why did you decide to take part in the championships as volunteers?
Julia: To participate in the championships I decided to meet new people, see the organization of the world championships. This is completely different than in the matches of PGE VIVE Kielce, at organizations I also help. I also wanted to have a nice holiday time.

What are you doing during matches?
Julia: In general, we’re doing statistics for IHF and live score coverage on the official site of the championship. These statistics are used by teams. Their team’s leaders come to us and ask for it. In fact, we write everything: lost goals, steals, counter-attacks, everything, everything that happens on the pitch.

In your case, it is difficult to contact the players, but maybe you have a funny situation with them?
Dorota: Unfortunately not, but our guardians, who familiarize us with the software in which we do the statistics are Croats. It is known, they do not know Polish, but they catch such a single word. It always makes us laugh when our carer, Drago, follows us and repeats the “empty goal, empty, empty”.
Bartek: In translation, it means “stupid George”. We checked in the dictionary.
Dorota: Really? It is already known why Drago laughs at us when we say “empty gate”.

What will you give to these championships in the role of volunteers?
Dorota: New acquaintances as during other volunteers. New friendships were made. This voluntary service will give me experience as well. Previously, I had no contact with such software in which I could run statistics. Yes, I am interested in handball, but I prefer to watch the match of the team or PGE VIVE Kielce, look on. I never paid attention to what I pay attention to now.
Julia: Generally they will give us a lot of experience. For me, this is a great opportunity to get to know the judges and delegates. Looking to the future, if I would like to continue to judge and start doing it in a higher class of games, every opportunity to gain experience is a step to fulfil my dream.

 

MEDIA
The last sector I decided to discover were so-called media people. They run, print, photocopy statistics for journalists from Poland and around the world. Sometimes, they also bring cookies to starving journalists. Natalia Stąpor told me about the work of the media sector, yes Stąpor, do not confuse it.

Why did you volunteer for the championship?
Natalia: I applied for the world championships because I wanted to do something useful with my life. I wanted to learn new things, meet new people and, above all, break my language barrier. So far, I have had problems to speak to someone in English. It is really amazing when after a few days of volunteering I can talk to the IHF delegates or competitors without any resistance.

What do you do in your area?
Natalia: In my media zone we deal with printing protocols before and after the match. This allows journalists to write a detailed and faithful match report. We bring journalists, including drinks and snacks, eg “Grześki” waffles. Their reporter from Chile liked their taste in particular. He wants to take some home with him. Between meetings, when we are not needed, we can help in other areas.

What will you gain from this tournament?
Natalia: I will certainly gain the aforementioned self-confidence when it comes to English. It is also very satisfying when you can solve a problem on a regular basis and help the same organizers and teams. Besides, people. Wonderful people with whom we learn cooperation. Volunteering gives me a “guarantee” for the future. I am not afraid that I will be completely out of work, because “hey, here I can deal with various tasks”.

Have you had any funny situations?
Natalia: The funny situation is full. The team of Tunisia was warming up at the help desk. We were volunteers in good spirits, so we joined them. Then the players began to sing and dance. They grabbed us by the shoulders and ordered us to play together. There was also a situation when someone closed the judges in the locker room. When I came to them with the key, they did not even thank me for the rescue, they were probably too upset and overwhelmed that they would be late for the match. Then, however, they met me by accident in the corridor. They laughed that I was their saviour and made a gesture of falling on my knees with gratitude. But I will be the warmest to mention the Chinese coach. Most volunteers say openly that they like Asian teams the most. Because they walk all the time smiling and enjoy everything. Recently, the Chinese team came to the Hall Politechnika. We greeted them and went to their trainer, whom I had already talked to. I just told her that we like the most Asian teams. The coach made a big “ooo” and she gave me such a badge symbolizing Chinese handball (I do not know if it was the logo of their relationship or something like that) with a happy “that’s for you”. Really a very, very nice gesture on her part. There are no sad situations. Well, unless you congratulate the team on winning when the losers are next to you. A person does not know how to behave.

 

Conversation with this small group of superheroes brought me much joy. It was a new experience both for me and for them. I hope that someday I will be able to cooperate with these wonderful people during the handball tournament organized in Poland.

Beloved Volunteers, thank you again for your invaluable help! You are our SUPERHEROES!

Karolina Zielonka

photo credit: PRESSFOCUS, Dorota Janik, Anna Benicewicz-Miazga, Tomasz Fąfara/ZPRP