Africa: U17 AFCON - Volunteers, Unsung Heroes of Tanzania 2019

In sporting events and especially football, Volunteers are usually the unsung heroes. A major player in their work that comes with thrills, excitement and challenges in serving different people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The just ended Total U-17 Africa Cup of Nations Tanzania 2019, which started from 14 November 2018 till 28th April 2018 in the city of Dar es Salaam produced some unforgettable moments especially for Cameroon, who edged Guinea 5-3 on penalties to be crowned champions.

However, off the pitch, the volunteers were the key actors providing assistance in the areas of media, hospitality, protocol, marketing, ticketing among others. Over 200 volunteers were deployed for the tournament mostly students from tertiary institutions who availed themselves as and when their services was needed, sometimes even at odd times in the quest to make the first ever U-17 Cup of Nations hosted in Tanzania live up to expectation.

Collins Okinyo, an experienced journalist, was the Media officer for the Group B venue at Chamazi, which hosted four matches.

Together with his team of about 15 volunteers, they had the challenge of dealing with the demands of the journalists during the two-week period in the areas of accreditation and other media related support services.

According to him, he was thrilled to be part of the historic moment for the first ever continental youth football tournament hosted in the East African country. He said the journey has not been easy but the zeal to see a successful tournament was the focus as the country witnessed its first major CAF competition.

One of the volunteers from the group, Jackie Nayo said "The road hasn't been that smooth but helping as a volunteer was worth it, it afforded me the opportunity to learn from other people and also to share. We had different cultures and attitude but as a volunteer it was very important to remain calm, just to see that work went on without emotions".

"As a football ardent, I have enjoyed being part of this football tournament in the capacity of a volunteer, it has given me the opportunity to know more about other journalists and more about their operations.

"I would have loved to watch and report as a sports journalist, but volunteering prevented it. I had some tough times dispensing my duties, but it was worth it" he said.

Amani Buri, enjoying sports at a distant for years also shared his experience as a volunteer for the first time in her life, which she wished it never ended. He described it as an honour and looking forward to more CAF tournaments, where he could volunteer again even if it's outside Tanzania.

"Being in the team of media assistance exposed me to top industry players, which happens to be my field of study, though it has not been easy, it has been worth my time serving my country and CAF and hoping to do more at any given time".

Major sport events refer to one‐time or perhaps annual sport competitions, as opposed to leagues and being part of a work that requires all the attention, calmness, energy and tactics, volunteering at the U-17 AFCON.

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