Trained and multilingual: make way for the volunteers for the Under 23 World Championships
The 466 young people who will welcome and assist the athletes, spectators and staff, have been presented in Schiranna. And the Infopoint on the lakeshore has also opened. However, the political controversies have continued.
The 466 volunteers who, from today (Monday 21 July), will be working in Schiranna for the success of the World Rowing Under 23 Championships, are ready to welcome everyone coming to the shores of the lake for what is the most important sporting event organized in the town since 2008. These volunteers have also been carefully trained to respond to the demands of the athletes, technicians, fans and staff.
The experiences of the last two years (in 2012, there were the European Championships, and in 2013, the World Rowing Masters) have enabled the organising committee to refine preparation of this group of young people, dressed in white T-shirts and red shorts, who represent the face of Varese. The girls and boys come from three places: the largest group (over 300) is of students from 22 high schools, who are taking advantage of the sporting event to get some work experience; about forty are volunteers who have finished their school studies, but who have asked to continue the experience of the last two years. And lastly, there are the children from the rowing clubs in the Province, about one hundred, who are personally involved in the World Championships of their own sporting discipline.
The red and white “regiment” is coordinated by Alessandro Franzetti, who is well-known in local rowing circles as a result of being cox in the Italian Paralympic teams. “The children are going to work in two shifts, divided into 26 different teams, and they’ve been carefully trained; each one speaks at least three languages, including English at an advanced level. For those not up to scratch, we organised an 18-hour course, and the rest of the training concerned notions of safety and sustainability. Generally speaking, we can respond to requests and problems in 16 different languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Ukrainian and Romanian.”
In addition to the presentation of the volunteers, the Infopoint was opened this morning in Schiranna; this will be active throughout the event. This space is easy to reach (it is just inside the entrance of the area dedicated to the rowing), and is where you can get information about the World Championships, and tourist/promotional material, and even book some excursions. “Two have been planned, one to Sacro Monte, and one to the town centre; both will be guided and in the language requested by those interested,” explained Paola Della Chiesa, who manages the Tourist Agency. “It’s a way of involving the rest of the province, and could be useful for the visitors and for the people of Varese themselves, as the bookings we’ve already received show.”
The morning in Schiranna also involved the architect Giorgio Caporaso, who, with his company Lessmore, fitted out the Infopoint using natural, recyclable materials, with a view to making the event sustainable. “It’s a pleasure to work for rowing,” he said, “a discipline in which there’s a fascinating relationship between the shape of the tools and their function.”
Finally, the authorities were represented by the Vice Chairman of the rowing federation, Federcanottaggio, Davide Tizzano, the great rower of the past, as his two Olympic gold medals, which he won in Seoul, in the quadruple sculls, and in Atlanta, in the senior pairs, demonstrate (HERE, our video interview on the Italian hopes). “The volunteers were one of the successes of the previous international events organised in Varese, and I think that the synergy created at various levels, will enable these World Championships to be even better. The ‘machine’ will live up to the tradition of hospitality and organising efficiency that characterise Italian events.”
This is all true, but one thing should be mentioned: the council representatives were absent from today’s meeting, particularly, Councillor Ghiringhelli. But despite the standard declaration (“although he’s absent because of official engagements, he always supports us,” Della Chiesa said), as far as we know, from sources close to the Council, he was not invited (the controversy was played down by Councillor Ghiringhelli himself, on Monday evening). This is yet another episode in the tedious soap opera (which the people care nothing about), which has already led to the recent resignation of Dario Galli, as chairman of the organising committee, a role that is still vacant. The machine of the World Championships has been set in motion and is proceeding independently, but this situation is certainly not the best backdrop to an event that will, nonetheless, be great.