Volunteers: Underdogs and the unsung heroes of Khelo India 2019
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Volunteers: Underdogs and the unsung heroes of Khelo India 2019

Mishra, a sports teacher at Eklavya Krida Sankul, looked extremely delighted while volunteering and worked with a smile on his face throughout the day, showing little to no signs of fatigue. When asked what kept him so happy, he simply responded that it was due to his love for the game of football.

pune Updated: Jan 14, 2019 16:57 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
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Volunteers Kapil Mishra (left) and Mihir Ghare at Flame University(SANKET WANKHADE/HT PHOTO)

Playing the role of unsung heroes are nearly 1,000 volunteers who are working day and night behind the scenes to ensure that the operations of Khelo India 2019, the biggest sporting event in the city since the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, are going on seamlessly.

The involvement of a volunteer often goes unnoticed. So, HT has decided to spend a day with two volunteers Mihir Ghare and Kapil Mishra at Flame where they were expected to report at 7:30 am on Thursday morning.

However, Mishra opted for the pickup service from Balewadi sports complex an hour prior to his reporting so was expected to hit the road at 6 am.

Ghare, on the other hand, decided to come on his own two-wheeler and arrived at the venue a few minutes before 7:30 am.

Explaining why they were asked to report one and a half hour before the kick-off time, Ghare stated, “We were called at 7:30 because that’s when the teams arrive. They need sufficient time to warm up and strategise themselves before they start playing. So we had to ensure the field was ready. Our work involved arranging the dugouts, ensure the fourth official had all the equipment that was required, get the scoreboard and substitution board in place.”

Once the first match finishes at 11 am, their work begins once again. They had to keep all the balls back in the room, ensure that the corner flags and goal nets were in proper condition before they could walk off the pitch to have their breakfast, which was provided to them by Khelo India.

The next game did not begin until 3 pm so while it may seem that they had some time to kill, Ghare clearly stated that was not the case.

He said, “After our breakfast, we were back in the office and were helping the officials out with some administrative work. We also did things like check the air in the balls and checked whether anything else was needed to be done.”

Mishra, a sports teacher at Eklavya Krida Sankul, looked extremely delighted while volunteering and worked with a smile on his face throughout the day, showing little to no signs of fatigue. When asked what kept him so happy, he simply responded that it was due to his love for the game of football.

“Being a football player, for me, the work was not a brainer. I love sports but also wanted to see all that goes in the management side of things. I know how it works but understanding first-hand is a different experience altogether. The experience of volunteering here has been incredible. It’s a new thing that I did and I feel I’ve already learned a lot,” said Mishra

He then continued speaking about how he became a volunteer at Khelo India 2019and explained the process in detail. For him, it’s already been an incredible experience and being out from 6 am to 6 pm is not something he looks at as an obstacle.

“There was an online form that was available last month which I filled and uploaded my documents. After that, they asked me which sport I wanted to opt for and I chose football. Then I received a message from Khelo India that I was shortlisted for an interview where I was asked a few questions about the sport and volunteering and my selection got confirmed.”

Both Mishra and Ghare have opted only to volunteer for football as Sports Specific Volunteers (SSV) and will be at the ground every single day right until the finals of the tournament which are set to be held on the 19th of this month.

“We have 650-700 general volunteers (GV) here at Khelo India and around 300 sports specific volunteers (SSV). We got the GV ones from colleges all around the state while the SSV ones are either players or officials. Their working hours depend on the sports they’re assigned in and for the GV ones, we have local buses to ensure their commute to the stadium.

“For the SSV ones, we have also arranged cars from selected venues. Regarding their food arrangements, we provide coupons to each and every volunteer. Their daily wages range from Rs. 250-750 depending on their hours and type of work,” said Urmila Morale, deputy director of sports (head of volunteers):

First Published: Jan 14, 2019 16:56 IST