Volunteer at Final4

Handball was always my passion. I was born in Győr, where women’s handball is a celebrated and widely beloved sport, mostly because our team, Audi-ETO is one of the best handball teams in the world.

Let’s jump back to last April. My team won every single one of its matches and easily qualified itself to the history’s first Woman’s EHF Champions League Final4, organised in Budapest. So I decided that I have to be there somehow.  The tickets with reasonable prices were all sold out, so I needed another option. With a little luck, I managed to get a volunteer-job in the media department of the Final4, which means I can attend the biggest sport event of the year for free to cheer my team, and I can get some professional experience in sport communication too. Double pleasure!

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Another jump in time. The Women’s Final4 was held between 1st of May and 4th of May in Papp László Budapest Sportarena. My task was to stand right beside to court during all the matches and check the photographers there (and of course, enjoy the matches). After the referee’s last whistle, I had to escort the most valuable players from the teams to the press conference.

During the Final4 I’ve seen some interesting phenomenon all around the city. All the volunteers working on the event had a uniform, a bright green sweater.Every morning when I travelled to the Arena, I saw hundreds of bright green guys and girls everywhere around, especially in metro line M2. I’ve never seen so many seemingly similar people in the large, sparkling and colourful Budapest. Other passengers were staring at us, and whispered behind our back, it was pretty funny to watch them guessing what is going on, but none of them had the courage to ask someone from the green crowd. I still don’t know why. Maybe we were all too frightening? I don’t think so…

Everything went fine on the first days. The organization was great, the photo reporters made a good job without any trouble, all the matches were exciting and fair play was all around. Thanks to my position, I had the pleasure to meet amazing players and coaches, talk to handball fans from all over Europe. And last but not least, I met the head of the EHF, we even took a selfie together! With my volunteer-friends, we managed to sneak into the passage of the players and touch the trophy and take some photos with it. We were so lucky!

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But after the peaceful and fascinating first days, on the last day, the real trouble happened. Some of the opponent team’s hard-core fans decided to act like some barbaric horde, and they started to break and smash everything around them, throwing chairs and their beers, shouting and spitting to everyone who (bravely) tried to calm them. All because of their team was about to lose the game. First, the security guards tried to separate them from the nice and calm-behaving fans and from the volunteers working around them. We thought it can’t be serious. Well, after one angry man yelled at us lots of horrible things in English and threatened us, we finally believed this is serious. The referees had to stop the match, and special police force had to guard those not-so-nice fans out of the building, and some of them into the closest police station. After the game was finished, and the press conference was done too, the police guarded us to the metro station, because some of the furious fans were still out there, shouting in groups. They were really terrifying, but luckily none of the volunteers were hurt. Another I have never-thing: I’ve never been guarded by special police force…and I wish I won’t be ever again.

After all, my team won the trophy of course, and the head of the EHF (European Handball Federation) proclaimed that Budapest was a so prepared and gracious host, that they would like to ask the Hungarian Handball Association and Budapest if they could host the next year’s Final4 too! Hopefully I’ll be there again.

 

Kelemen Dorottya

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