Sport Volunteering for Curling Championship C-division in Brasov
My first sport volunteering experience in a championship
When Yellow Shirts, the NGO I am volunteering for in Baia Mare, sent me to the beautiful city of Brasov to help organize the European Curling Championships C-Division with others volunteers, little did I know about curling or volunteering for such an event. Soon someone told me I would be “helping with the ice”. The questions kept popping in my head - how will I help with the ice as I have never set foot on a curling ice rink before, how would I be received there by the other volunteers, and what the hell is curling?
Ok, I’ve watched some videos but didn’t really understand the rules of the game, and it is not the same as watching live. So, after travelling for eleven hours on a train, one of the players of the Romanian team, and also a volunteer (as all or almost all of the team players were) picked me up from the train station in Brasov and took me directly to the Patinoarul Olimpic, more concretely to the ice rink to have a little training about ice preparation. Apparently there is this very important task which is cutting the ice, basically keep the ice sheet smooth and clean for the stones to roll perfectly, I am not going to explain the game here, that would take a whole new article, I can only tell about my task - cleaning the ice after it was scrapped, it does not seem a very interesting role at first, but soon (like after one hour), those little small freezing tasks rapidly transformed into funny and cheerful moments filled with laugh and music, thanks to one of the ice technician’s playlist, that he would bring to the rink, as well as his sense of humor.
I realized that this Championship was a very important event for all curling fans, that required a great team effort, and everybody was willing to help, the team players, their family members, and many other curling fans, some that even came from Bucharest. I might have been the only one unfamiliar with the sport, but it didn’t matter because they welcomed me as a part of their volunteering group as if I was one big curling fan. Most of the volunteers were staying until the end of the day, even if their shift was over, they would stay to help a little more and to watch the games. There was literally no time for bad moods, the clock was running, games were scheduled and everybody had to commit to their tasks, even if that meant waking up at 4.30 in the morning to start the 6am shift (like me).
Surprisingly it was not difficult for me to wake up so early, one volunteer told me it was the fresh air of Brasov, the mountain and the surrounding nature makes the city’s air cleaner. One of the good things about waking up early was listening to the birds singing at 5.30 am in the Olympic park, they were so much more awake than I was, and I could hear them perfectly without the distraction of cars passing by or people talking. Basically, I was working in the morning, watching some games after lunch and taking walks late in the afternoon around the historical center of Brasov, even if it was cold and raining. Brasov is enjoyable at anytime of the year, anytime in the day, under the clouds or under the bright sun, it is just that mystical and cozy at the same time. Maybe also because the people in general, are friendly. Fortunately, I got to meet a lot of local people because I was volunteering with them. From all the things you can experience in a new city, food, traditions, museums, people, I believe meeting new people, especially locals, is the one experience that can make a difference and have an impact in your journey.
The curling championship lasted for 6 days, but it felt like a month, by the end we all felt part of a big family, happy with the final result - First big European Curling Championships C-Division successful happened in Romania, but sad to say goodbye to all that was shared and lived together under pressure but so enthusiastically. Even if my feet were cold, my heart was warm. I was not a curling “afficionato” but I learned about the sport, I have never volunteer for a sport championship before, but I definitely want to do it again, I didn’t know the environment, but it exceeded my expectations. I am very grateful for this experience and for all the people that welcomed me so kindly. After this, Brasov has a new meaning to me, and so does sport volunteering.