Johannesburg - Training for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup volunteers has officially kicked off, marking another significant milestone for the 2010 FIFA World Cup appetizer.
Over 1000 of the 4000 volunteers selected for the intense volunteer training programme descended on Johannesburg's Nasrec Expo Centre on Friday for their first briefing by the Local Organising Committee (LOC).
The training, which will be held over the next two weeks, is the culmination of a grueling recruitment drive. The LOC received well over 35 000 volunteer applications.
The volunteers, who represent Africa's diverse demographics, come from far and wide and are re young and old. They will pledge their support to the continent's first ever FIFA Confederations Cup tournament to be held in South Africa from 14- 28 June 2009.
Once trained, these volunteers will man crucial operational areas such as accreditation, administration, information technology, language support, logistics, transport, information services, media and marketing amongst others during the tournament.
Volunteers will not be offered any financial remuneration for events in 2009. They will, however, receive R80 per day for expenses such as travelling, based on the days they will work.
The Volunteer Programme Manager of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, Onke Mjo described the event as a "milestone".
"It is a great day we have been planning for since 2006," she said, adding that it also marked the beginning of a great working relationship.
"It is the beginning for us, it is the beginning for the team, it is the beginning for the organisation, and today is the beginning for all of us. Let's commit to this process and make sure that those million others who did not make it are proud of the work that we are going to do," she said.
Ellis Park Stadium manager Andrew Dipela told the volunteers that they will be the "spiritual shareholders" of the Confederations Cup and urged them to accept their responsibilities with a smile and with pride.
"When as a country you hold such a tournament, you have what you call the spiritual shareholders; you who are the volunteers are the spiritual shareholders of this event.
"You need to begin to see yourselves as the ambassadors of South Africa and the continent at large because you are in the frontline," he said.