Fans' View

Fans’ View: The perks of volunteering at international soccer events

In 1994 I was single and living in DC. My love for soccer was in its infancy.

I’m a smart woman — I put two and two together and decided I should volunteer at the World Cup.

I filled out paperwork, was accepted, and then couldn’t make the training sessions for the volunteers, so I figured that was the end of that brilliant idea to find a boyfriend.

Not so, as it turns out. They were so desperate for volunteers that one day while I was teaching, the school office called and said I had a phone call. This was back in the dark ages, so I had to walk downstairs to the phone booth outside the office for the call to be transferred. As I waited, scary scenarios went through my head — no one ever called me at work: Were my parents OK? Was my apartment on fire?

The voice on the other end said, “Hi, my name is Rob and I’m in charge of the motor pool and we need volunteers.”

Whew. Guess it wasn’t so important to make the training sessions because he said just show up at the Navy Shipyard on a particular date and we will get you outfitted.

Oh, that outfit: white polo with a royal blue collar and matching blue twill shorts. We also got lightweight jackets with the World Cup logo emblazoned diagonally across the front. The 90’s were not the best decade for fashion. Those USMNT denim jerseys are still etched in my mind.

Thus began my month long journey as a World Cup volunteer in the motor pool. Our job was to drive the visiting teams, FIFA personnel, or anyone else who needed a ride around DC. Most of the time we sat around in the motor pool eating cans of Starkist tuna (sponsor), drinking Coke (sponsor), snacking on Snickers (sponsor), and sending one poor volunteer out to the nearest McDonalds armed with fistfuls of free lunch coupons to bring back Big Macs and fries for the group.

Lest you think all we did was eat, I did get to see all of the games in DC. Once a game started, we were allowed to find an empty seat and watch the match. The Netherlands vs. Saudi Arabia game? I’ve never seen so much orange in my life. For the Spain vs. Switzerland match in the Round of 16, I was rooting for the Swiss because I had been assigned as the driver for the coach’s family. I was able to sit with the team at breakfast, watch the practices, and hang out at the hotel where they were staying. Definitely a bonus for a single twentysomething!

At the end of my adventure, I walked away with a case of tuna, a really cool Swiss national team watch, and a boyfriend, who became my husband. I think I can say it was a successful World Cup.

So when I heard that the Copa America Centenario was coming to Philly, I jumped at the opportunity to relive my volunteer memories. I called around and wrangled an interview for my husband, who was hired as the “Workforce Manager” (also known as the Volunteer Coordinator). I’m excited to experience this tournament from the “inside” and hope that my sons have an opportunity to join us. I’ll be on the pitch as the Player Escort Supervisor, which hopefully will not involve chasing kids around the Linc.

I know I get another nifty uniform, but I’m not sure about the case of tuna. But what I really hope to gain out of this experience — besides to see some amazing soccer — is a picture of my kids with Christian Pulisic.

C’mon Jurgen, put him in the 23!



  1. This is a great story….
    and you are correct, the 90s were a fashion tragedy… every time I see Zidane or Henry in those super baggie tops, or the faux stonewash or worse yet the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline Country Club and the collard sunday singles shirt with all the pictures of old golfers … man… awful.

  2. I’m trying to picture riding around DC in July with cans of tuna everywhere…yikes.

    Great story.

  3. James Lockerbie says:

    Ah, the 94 world cup! Rob and I went with a group of friends to Giant stadium to see Morocco v Suadi Arabia. I remember kicking the ball around while tailgating with a broken toe.

    I really hope the world cup comes back to America. Imagine in 94 I was 18 having fun with friends. In 2026, I’ll be 50 with my two kids and hopefully my nephews to witness the next world cup together how cool would that be?

    • Staci Klemmer says:

      That was my dream for the 2022 games – my sons would be 22 and 19. What an amazing way to spend summer…

  4. For soccer fans traveling to events in summer 2016, to insure your trip from accidents, lost baggage, flight delays, and identify theft hacks @ hotel wi fi, ATM skimming.

  5. Where I can find information to become a Volunteer?, thanks for any info

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