Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Preparing for Kickoff: Behind the Scenes of EuroCup 2012 as a UEFA Volunteer

For the past few months, the city of Kharkiv has been scrambling to prepare itself for the highly anticipated crowds of foreigners that will come to Ukraine for EuroCup 2012. Street signs and menus written in English have been popping up everywhere, and advertisements for English language classes have also increased around the city. The metro (aka subway or underground) has almost completely switched to paper tickets instead of the decades-old plastic tokens, and many colorful EuroCup banners have already been put up all around the city.

But perhaps the most noticeable improvement that I've seen has only just happened during the last two weeks: the station announcements in the metro (subway/underground) are now in Ukrainian AND English! While the grammar isn't perfect and there are of course some spelling errors in the signs, I believe that this is a huge step for Kharkiv.

If you've never been to Kharkiv, you can see a few glimpses of the city's highlights in the following "timelapse" video. This video does a great job of showing the city both during the day and at night. I love this city, it has a rich history and beautiful architecture : )

The city is also working with UEFA to prepare a Fan Zone in Freedom Square, which right in the center of downtown Kharkiv. This Fan Zone contains a giant jumbotron-like tv, which will show the games on match day along with a number of other activities for fans. If you'd like to read more about the Fan Zone, you can check out http://ukraine2012.gov.ua/ru/news/196/53791/ (I recommend using Google Chrome to translate the page from Russian into English).

As a foreign national working as an official UEFA Volunteer, it has been really interesting for me to meet other people who are also volunteering in Kharkiv. 65% of the volunteers are university students or recent graduates, and many of them are majoring in philology (better known as linguistics) or studying to be English teachers in the pedagogical institute. We have a young and energetic volunteer team here in Kharkiv: 76% of the UEFA Volunteers in Kharkiv are under 25 years old, followed by 19% who are ages 25-35 years old.

I'm ready to kick off EuroCup! 
I've been pleasantly surprised with the general level of English among the volunteers, and actually quite a few of the volunteers have studied or worked abroad in English-speaking countries. Another thing that surprised me was how many of the volunteers are also foreign nationals like myself - many of them are here in Ukraine studying in universities or medical school. 9% of the volunteers in Kharkiv are foreign nationals, representing the following countries:

China PR
Cote d`Ivoire

I am part of the Ticketing team and we have already started working in the Ticket Collection point near the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv.  Our job is to distribute UEFA's tickets to fans who purchased them online and to print tickets for people who purchased tickets after May 23rd, 2012. We had two functional trainings and   then I worked my first shift last Saturday! 
The ticketing team!
checking seats in the stadium with some of the girls.
The "spider" stadium, home of FC Metalist Kharkiv, has also undergone some transformations in preparation for EuroCup. They have updated the banners on the outer perimeter of the stadium and renovated the pitch inside. 
Kharkiv will host 3 games with the team from the Netherlands. 
lots of new EuroCup signage in the stadium :)
The former Metalist Cafe and Fan Store is now home of the Volunteer Center! All Volunteers have access to this building, and we have space to grab coffee or just hang out before/after our shifts (and even check our email!)
I love the giant soccer ball beanbag chairs!
An extra-large Volunteer shirt :P
We have 3 games here in Kharkiv from Group B, which is split between Lviv and Kharkiv. We will host match number 3 - Netherlands v. Denmark on June 9th, match 12 - Netherlands v. Germany on June 13th and match 19 - Portugal v. Netherlands on June 17th. I'm super excited about EuroCup and proud to be a part of the UEFA Volunteer team! 


Ted Hogeman said...

Go Jing! Eurocup in Kharkiv is going to be the best!

Also, awesome video find!

Crazy About Ukraine said...

It was really interesting to get an insider's view of this. Sounds like you're going to have a blast!


W Italy!!!

Obat Kuat said...

good post about

Preparing for Kickoff: Behind the Scenes of EuroCup 2012 as a UEFA Volunteer

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