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Tonnes of work, for free
Jaideep Ghosh, PTI
February 15, 2003
First Published: 01:26 IST(15/2/2003)
Last Updated: 01:26 IST(15/2/2003)

Dressed in purple and black T-shirts, beige trousers and a purple hat, the volunteers for the 2003 World Cup are a motley crowd. This army of 3000 is an amazing lot, doing tonnes of work for free, only for the love of South Africa and cricket.

From ushers, car park attendants, information kiosk attendants, assisting VIPs and the media, manning accreditation centres and handling queues, these volunteers do everything.

They are of all ages, from 16-year-old Clarissa in Cape Town to a 67-year-old veteran in Port Elizabeth. They are students, professionals, lawyers, housewives, retired people, all doing a tremendous job, making sure nothing is out of place for the people coming to watch or cover the cricket.

The volunteer system is a brainchild of World Cup 2003 Executive Director Ali Bacher, who picked after the idea from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

"No fewer than 47,000 put up their hands and offered to do something for their country," Bacher says in the official World Cup handbook.

"These were quality people - lawyers, accountants, people who took leave from work to make their voluntary contributions."

So grew the idea of the Volunteer System, and a full-time manager, Herman Beetge, who, incidentally, is also a volunteer, was created.

Beetge went to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City last year for more ideas and then the process began. Co-ordinators were appointed in all the hosting cities in South Africa and Jonty Rhodes was asked to become the Patron of Volunteers 2003. The people-friendly Rhodes accepted immediately.

An painstaking 16-page application form and information booklet was drawn up, and that to had a purpose - as a test of patience. Those who did not have the patience and time to fill up that 16-page form obviously would not have enough time to spare to work long hours at various centres.

The final selection process included security screening before a two-day orientation course at every centre. Then the uniforms were handed out, and the purple and beige brigade got down to work.


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