Meet the FIFA volunteers ready to welcome all football fans to Qatar

Fans can expect an enthusiastic welcome from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 volunteers.
Fans can expect an enthusiastic welcome from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 volunteers.   -   Copyright  Richard Ballan
By Mohamed Elashi

SCENES shines a spotlight on youth around the world that are breaking down barriers and creating change. The character-driven short films will inspire and amaze, as these young change-makers tell their remarkable stories.

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be supported by hundreds of thousands of Qatari citizens, residents and international ambassadors. Not only can they cheer on their favourite teams, but they also get a behind-the-scenes view of how the world's biggest footballing events are put together. More importantly, it's an opportunity for many people to give back to the community.

Paying it forward

Adel, Hassan, Areeba and Melbie were hand-picked by the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 volunteering committee. What do they have in common? They are all eager to give back to Qatar.

Richard Ballan
By volunteering in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Areeba feels like she's giving back to Qatar and the whole world.Richard Ballan

"You're giving back to the country, not just the country, but the world because it is an international event where people are coming from different places and different backgrounds," says 19-year-old Areeba, from Pakistan, who has been living in Qatar for 13 years.

Spectacular service

According to FIFA, an estimated 20,000 volunteers will work in 45 functional areas. These areas include stadiums, training grounds, the airport, fan zones, hotels, and public transportation hubs. Sixteen thousand volunteers reside in Qatar, whilst the rest hail from other countries.

Richard Ballan
Adel was delighted when he knew he was assigned to Spectator Services.Richard Ballan

Mechanical Engineering student Adel AbuMoghly from Jordan has been a Qatari resident for nine years. He was delighted at being assigned to the Spectator Services department. "I felt very happy because being in Spectator Services means that I would be engaging with many people from all over the world. Sharpen my skills to help them, to service them and make them feel comfortable here in Qatar," Adel tells Scenes.

'Out of that bubble.'

Qatar local Hassan AlHawaj knows what it takes to volunteer. He signed up to volunteer in the Arab Cup in 2021 and worked his way up to become a Workforce Team Leader at Thumama World Cup stadium in Qatar.

Richard Ballan
Hassan worked his way up to become a Workforce Team Leader at Al-Thumama Stadium.Richard Ballan

"Workforce Team Leaders are the group of people who will be running the volunteering procedures. We take care of everything: their check-in time, check-out time, their meals, everything they need, including uniforms," explains Hassan.

As a result of his community work, Hassan maintains his mental and physical health while developing his skills. "I used to be a very shy person. I would never interact with people unless I had to. Volunteering took me out of that bubble. It took me out of my comfort zone to become very social, meeting different people, cultures, and mindsets," he tells Scenes.

Never a conflict in the schedule

Balancing full-time work and volunteering can be challenging, but finding a balance is vital for creating a meaningful experience. Melbie Bongbonga from the Philippines works at café 1969 Padel in Doha, Qatar. For Melbie, being a volunteer is all about time management.

Richard Ballan
Even though she has a full-time job, Melbie is able to dedicate her time as a volunteer at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.Richard Ballan

"In terms of being a volunteer, that's a service for free. So, it's about your willingness to join. You need to commit and take advantage of this opportunity. What's good about volunteering at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is that they ask you what time you are free to come and which time you prefer for your training. You can book the slots and select the sessions you prefer." she told Scenes.

Showcasing homegrown talent

Each volunteer is carefully considered and selected for their role. Melbie is excited at the prospect of being assigned to Ceremonies. She says it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent the host country's culture and traditions through dance performances and big-name headline acts.

"It's a great opportunity for me to be working in Ceremonies because Ceremonies are an integral part of FIFA. We need to showcase our talent, and we need to welcome everyone. We'll be dancing, interacting with people, and getting the crowd more excited," Melbie tells Scenes.

Richard Ballan
The volunteers are eager to provide the fans with a memorable experience in Qatar.Richard Ballan

While working in Spectator Services, Adel is excited to put his servicing talent to practice. "I want the fans to know that they are welcome here when they see me. I really want to be as much help as I can. And on behalf of the other volunteers, we are here to help in Qatar and to help you enjoy this experience."

The perfect opportunity

For many, volunteering allows them to expand their horizons and celebrate other cultures and nationalities. At the same time, others see it as an opportunity to pay forward a kind gesture they received. Either way, being selected to work at this year's historic tournament is a unique and exciting opportunity for the thousands of volunteers taking part.

Journalist • Mohamed Elashi