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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Father-son volunteer duo live out their dreams together

Lucas and Valmiki Cardoso were the only father-son duo who were volunteers in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, but for them the tournament is about more than just work.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Oct 25, 2017 17:21 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Goa
Based in Goa, Valmiki (L) and Lucas Cardoso were the only father-son duo among the volunteers for the FIFA U-17 World Cup(Valmiki Cardoso)

It started with Eusebio but fate made Lucas Cardoso wait 51 years before his dream of watching a World Cup came true. Actually, he did more than watch.

Cardoso was part of the 1379 volunteers that is the heartbeat of any event of this magnitude. And he had son Valmiki with him, making them the only father-son duo involved as volunteers.

Both had volunteered for the 2014 Lusophony Games, a multi-discipline event for Portuguese-speaking countries, in Goa as well.

“From the time my country (Portugal) lost to England in the semi-final, I had been wondering when I would ever see a World Cup,” Lucas Cardoso told Hindustan Times over the phone from Candolim, North Goa.

At 73, Cardoso is also the oldest volunteer in India’s first brush with a Fifa event.

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Lucas Cardoso said he has been following every World Cup but became a banker in Bahrain where he lived for 23 years before retiring and returning home.

And then he read about India organising a World Cup. “I got excited and applied because even at my age, you can be of help,” he said.

Lucas Cardoso’s application was among the 29,358 received from 68 countries by the local organising committee. He cleared the screening process and joined work in September. “This is not work, it is a pleasure and I never thought it would be like this,” he said.

Valmiki Cardoso, who is a director at an engineering college, too got selected and both were part of the ‘Sustainability’ team, one of 14 departments where volunteers were needed at each of the six venues, at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda.

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“One of our jobs was to encourage people not to litter and manage waste,” said Valmiki Cardoso, over the phone from Goa.

On October 18, one day after the pre-quarter finals in Goa, Valmiki Cardoso even celebrated his birthday. At the stadium, of course, with his father and the other volunteers, 192 of whom were in Goa.

At 281, New Delhi had the highest number of people who stand out in their deep blue tees and dark slacks always ready to help with a smile.

There were 221 in Mumbai and Kochi, 218 in Guwahati and 246 in Kolkata, according to information provided to Hindustan Times by the media department of the Local Organising Committee.

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A volunteer needed to be 18 by June 30, 2017 to be eligible and hence a good number of them are teenagers, tending to footballers slightly younger and ensuring their needs are met, from the airport to the stadium.

And that the over 1 million who have been to the games so far have a comfortable stadium experience.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 17:21 IST