Volunteer Program of XXVII World Summer Universiade 2013 in Kazan

Volunteer Program of XXVII World Summer Universiade 2013 in Kazan


L.M. Barieva
FISU International Educational Centre of International federation of student sport of Volga region state academy, Kazan, Russia

Key words: Universiade, volunteers, personnel, organization, program, management.

 “Volunteers can make or break the Games"

Sebastian Coe, London 2012 Organizing Committee Chair

International mega-sport events such as Olympic and Paralympic Games, FIFA World Cups, and Universiade are characterized by the unity of time, place, activities. They also require significant human resources. Since 1980s volunteering for sport events has become a cornerstone for the organization of the event. Volunteers have become one of the pivotal resources for staging the Olympic Games and for carrying out day-to-day functions (Giannoulakis, Wang and Gray, 2008).

It is acknowledged that to organize such a complicated and expensive event as major sport events are, the organizers cannot depend only on professional staff. The financial costs needed to pay all the required human resources of the mega sport events would make the running cost prohibitive. Increasingly of the scale of the sport events requires the organizing committees to recruit more volunteers for both preparation period and the Games-time to join professional team on different positions in almost all functional areas. Volunteer engagement is also important for community building and local engagement.

Volunteering for major sport events differ from country to country: in some countries (as the US or Australia) it is usual to involve volunteers as a part of the organizing committee, it is rather unusual for Asian countries and for Russia to involve people to work for free.

This research project explores the nature of sport event volunteer management, the best methods of volunteers attraction, recruitment, selection, training, motivation, operational management, retention, evaluation in order to give recommendations to future volunteer program managers as well as budgeting and provision needed for program implementation.

Russia is hosting a number of large scale sport events such as Summer Universiade, Athletics Championship, Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, racing in the class "Formula-1", FIFA World Cup, FINA Championship, Ice Hockey World Cup, and others. These events are key drivers in the formation of a healthy lifestyle of the young generation, providing an opportunity to promote the values of volunteerism in Russia, and help create an effective infrastructure to involve more people into volunteering.

At the same time there are insufficient human and organizational capacities to effectively deliver major sport events. In the environmental context there are upcoming sport events in Russia, noted above, yet there is no volunteer culture in Russia, no necessary infrastructure. In recent years there has been a support from the Government and changes in the legislation and the financial system have been made. In addition, there is an increasing number of sport management courses and educational programs which include human resources management. Russia has a limited number of professional sport managers, there is a lack of workforce for sport events, and at the same time sport events have limited budgets. There is also a distinct lack of good training modules for HR management in sports (especially on volunteering), and even no manuals for some events.

The aim of the project is to address the issues identified by undertaking research on volunteer training that can be used in developing a training module for managers of the volunteers’ programs for sport events.

The following main research questions were devised to reach the stated aim:

a) What is needed to create a Model of volunteers program for a sport event: what should it include to match the organizing committee and volunteers’ needs?

b) How to recruit, train, manage and motivate volunteers for sport events?

c)  What are the key success factors and the main risks of a volunteer program?

Using Russian and international materials as well as from volunteer programs for different sport events basic scheme for the volunteer involvement into the organizational process can be defined. It is important to say that the programs are similar in many facets. That is why most parts of the Training Module will be universal for any country, such as rules for selection, trainings plans and contents, operational management; at the same time promotion and motivation may differ from country to country.

To answer the research questions set for the study different types of researches were used. The research approach can be described as explanatory – it is to describe the model for sport volunteering. Methods used are mostly deductive. First of all, a literature review should be undertaken. There is a large body of existing research, many books and journals have sport volunteering related topics. The literature is mostly Australian, European and American, there is not much done in Asian, African countries and in Russia. Past major sport events volunteer programs as well as Games reports are very useful as they contain all the details of the program that can be analyzed to reach the aim of this project, models of the best practices can be found. Interviews with experienced sport volunteer programs managers are important to know their needs and to learn best practices and recommendations. Volunteers answer to questions stated should help to answer the questions about motivation and their previous experience.    

Three trends – a decrease in aggregate available volunteer hours, the growing significance of volunteers at events, and the increasing incorporation of events into communities’ economic development mix – contribute to an increasingly competitive market for a volunteer (Costa, Chalip, Green, 2006). Large-scale mega-sport events volunteer programs also differ from regular volunteering for organizations in terms of the way of attraction: people for these massive events are recruited via advertisements, announcements, partnerships and target volunteering associations, sport organizations and sponsors (Taylor, Doherty and McGraw, 2008). Relatively, few community sport volunteers are recruited through advertising or media (Cuskelly, 2006).

Volunteers are not there only to reduce cost of the event but they also bring multicultural features and friendship: mega-sports events are commonly characterized by the internationalism and diversity of their volunteer population (Giannoulakis, Wang and Gray, 2008).

Whatever the specific characteristics of an event, the operational management of its volunteers programme can be broken down into several fundamental phases as presented in Figure 1 below.

The “Volunteer journey” of the large sport event volunteers is typically the same for most of the programs represented with the following common components in Figure 2 below.

Fig. 1.  Volunteer Program Phases in Major Events

Fig. 2. Volunteer Lifecycle in Major Events

So, any big sport event Volunteer Programme will have to go through the main phases:

-  Organization and Information stage when the organizing committee defines the plan of the volunteer program, works on the infrastructure needed and starts information campaign for the stakeholders

-  Definition of volunteer roles and skill sets is important at the early stage for clear understanding of the volunteers profiles for proper recruitment and training program development

-  Awareness and communication campaign for potential volunteers

- Recruitment as promotions and attraction of the potential volunteers, applications

- Data registration and management in the database and first check

- Tests and interviews with the candidates to learn about their competencies, motivation and wills

- Selection process – it is important to read the data collected during the interviews the right way and to choose people who exactly fit to the profile

- Motivation and retention program development and implementation

- Assignment to the volunteer positions should include the functional role and the venue

- Confirmation of the person to volunteer

- Training (orientation, functional, venue) of volunteers

- Operational communication during the pre-event time

- Venue staffing phase is related to the venuazation period and includes position assignment

- Support during the Games providing all the services for volunteers such as meals, transportation and so on

- Recognition of the volunteers commitment on the highest level

- Legacy program creation and implementation

As a result of the study a Training module for Volunteers Programme managers was developed, the module has specific practical recommendations for each phase of the work. The implementation started in 2012.


  1. Stirring moments of the volunteer fate at Student Games-2013 [Electronic source]: official web site of KFU. – Kazan – URL: http://kpfu.ru/main_page?p_cid=47510&p_sub=12 (In Russian)

Corresponding author: lilibarieva@gmail.com