With just two days to go for the greatest football gala to kick off, fans have already landed in South Africa. Among them is Indian industrialist Om Prakash Mundhra and his wife Premlata.
Mundhra (59) will catch the action while volunteering with Soccer City stadium’s transport department. He will work the morning shift, starting at 6 a.m. “That way, I get to see the games in the evening.”
When he’s not doing business in Nagpur, Mundhra is volunteering at major sports events across the globe. He caught the bug with the 1982 Asian Games, when he was a student. In 2000, Sydney fulfilled his dream to be part of the Olympics. “I saw how volunteers worked in Sydney, how they coped with people from all over.
I was determined to be one the next time,” he said.
He got his chance in Athens four years later. Mundhra has since been a volunteer at the Torino and Vancouver Winter Olympics, the Doha Asian Games and now the FIFA World Cup.
“It's made me a better person, more patient,” he told the Hindustan Times. He's also been to South Africa and the West Indies for the last two cricket World Cups and to South Korea and Japan and Germany for the 2002 and 2006 football finals as a spectator.
“I've never travelled alone and my wife's crazier about these events than I am,” he said.
Lack of a working knowledge in Chinese meant he couldn't volunteer at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. But he did watch the Games.
Mundhra says this isn't an expensive hobby at all. He plans well in advance. “I booked my plane tickets for South Africa last year. For Beijing, I made hotel bookings in 2005. They offered me rooms at $70 that during the Olympics went for $400. Also, we carry our own food.”
And what about business when he's away? “I have three sons to take care of that,” he said.