The international engagement amongst our volunteers

A big part of the machine which has made this year’s championship possible is the volunteers who have given of their time to help out around the competitions. Bruce, Stefanie and Kseniya are some of the volunteers who have travelled the extra mile to get here, as they’ve come to Östersund from Australia, Germany and the US, to work as volunteers.

As the Biathlon World Championships was set to take place in Östersund, a great number of volunteers could be found, who wanted to help out during the event. A big portion of them were located close to the hosting city, but there was also interest from other Swedish counties, as well as other countries. Of the 1000 volunteers that are giving their time to the championship, 24 are from abroad. They have come here from Germany, Norway, England, Spain, France, Switzerland, and the most well-travelled is from Australia.

For Bruce, from Australia, the journey towards the WCH in Östersund started when he saw biathletes on Eurosport. Australia is a country where wintersports are not as dominant, so when the interest in biathlon grew big, Bruce decided that he needed to see the sport up close.

– I tried to get to Kontiolahti a few years ago, before I applied as a volunteer in Östersund. And they were all so great and so welcoming, I just thought: “Okey, I’m going to go and experience it all”. And it’s been great!

Stefanie, from Germany, and Kseniya, who was born in Belarus but is currently studying in the US, also found their way to Östersund through their sports-interest. They have all had a great experience during their time at the venue, and speak warmly of the people they have had the chance to meet – something they all appreciate very much.

– I love the atmosphere here, and I totally love the event – and the people I met here are people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, says Kseniya. And I know that if I for some reason return to Sweden in a couple of years, I could contact the people I’ve met here, and they would happily tell me to come visit. I’m proud to say that this has been the best week of my life.

On the question on whether they could recommend volunteering at WCH to someone who’s considering doing so, they all replied with a resounding ”Yes!”, and Stefanie quoted a famous slogan when she said ”Just do it!”. Bruce and Stefanie also speak of how it doesn’t matter what age you are – Bruce who’s retired and Stefanie who’s still working – there is something for everyone to do. And it’s worth it because of all the people you meet!

For most people who give of their time, it’s the community, people, the sport, and the excitement surrounding big events that attracted them to volunteering. As they have these interests in common, perhaps that is why they seem to enjoy each other’s company so much. And hopefully we will all get the chance to see them again, in future championships or perhaps even on the streets of Östersund.

– I would love to come back, to Östersund and to volunteer again, says Bruce. I know that the championships will be held in Italy next year, and I’m already considering going there. As long as you’re aware that you’ll be working with different people, different cultures, and if you have the right attitude, I feel that it’s something that’s worth doing again. Because it has really been great!

On the picture: Bruce, Australia & Stefanie, Germany
Photo: Emma Höglund