Kavitha Gopan, a native of Alappuzha in Kerala, is on cloud nine. She is one of the official FIFA volunteers at football World Cup venue in Qatar. It’s a dream come true for this 39-year-old teacher of Rajagiri School in Qatar who never thought that she would one day become part of the world’s biggest football event. “I am an official volunteer of FIFA for the World Cup. This is once in a life-time opportunity and I am so excited about it,” an elated Kavitha told “Open Digest”.
Kavitha and her team manage spectator service at the ‘Stadium 974’, which has grabbed the world’s attention due to its unique construction. Constructed entirely using shipping containers and modular steel, it is the first fully demountable covered football stadium. The stadium has been lauded for its cost-effective and sustainable design. As the name suggests, 974 shipping containers have been used in construction of the stadium. Interestingly, 974 is the international dialling code for Qatar.
“Since this historical stadium will not be here after the event, we are collecting memories of this spectacular building. We may not get another look at this in our lifetime,” she said.
“In front of the Stadium 974, we can see a special lighting arrangement, where a message appears in Malayalam and Arabic. Can’t explain how proud we feel to see the writing in Malayalam at the venue of the world’s largest football event,” she said.
Coming from a family with a sports background, Kavitha has a deep love for sports, especially football. One has to go through a lot of procedures before getting enrolled as a FIFA volunteer, she said “I enjoyed every bit of it.”
“The process started early in 2022. Learning that FIFA is planning to enrol teachers as volunteers, myself and a few teachers applied for the same around April. FIFA had received around 4 lakh applications and our chances of getting selected looked grim. Then one day, we received the interview call through mail,” Kavitha said.
Becoming a volunteer was not an easy task as she had to clear an interview.
“We were given the option to select the venue and time for the interview. Once we reached the interview venue, we were divided into small groups of 10 people each. Each group had to solve a puzzle. Our group won the round. Later, a one-to-one interview was conducted. Being a football fan, that round was pretty easy for me. Then we were given a task to demonstrate our skill to respond to a specific situation. My experience in volunteering various events at school was an added advantage,” she said.
According to Kavitha, one can see a cross section of Kerala at the venue. “We have met people from almost all districts in our state. We may not be playing in the World Cup, but this is our World Cup.”
Kavitha, joined her husband Gopan M R in Qatar in 2015 after she got the job in Rajagiri School. Their son Advaith Gopan is pursuing his studies in Kerala.