400 volunteers key to “man-made miracle”
CHENNAI: The 44th Chess Olympiad volunteer in charge Prateek Mohan’s mobile phone just does not stop ringing. The 29-year-old is the point of contact for as many as 400 volunteers, who are working behind the scenes for the smooth conduct of the global event.
But, amidst his busy schedule, Prateek on Thursday took time to talk to DT Next at the venue in Mahabalipuram. Our interaction, which lasted a mere five minutes at Hall No.2, happened at the cost of a few missed calls and messages.
Forming the group
The All India Chess Federation (AICF) was approached by local colleges which were willing to send thousands of students for the volunteering programme. But, the Olympiad organising committee opted for diversity while selecting the candidates. “We wanted to give young chess players and enthusiasts the opportunity to be part of this unique event. We wanted to give the right people the opportunity. We are giving them a decent stipend (approximately Rs 10,000) and good food and accommodation,” Prateek, a state-level chess champion during his school days, said.
Average age is 22, one-third are women
The committee picked volunteers broadly between the ages of 18 and 30. Giving the youngsters a run for their money is the 55-year-old Sripriya, the oldest member of the group. “The average age of our team is 22. She (Sripriya) has worked in a lot of chess events. She was extremely enthusiastic to come here. From the feedback that I have got, she has gelled well with the others,” added Prateek.
What do they do?
What are the roles and responsibilities of the volunteers? “We have 150 volunteers at the venue. Right from being at the hall, assisting the arbiters, manning the gates to ensuring none bring electronic gadgets into the halls, helping while serving food and beverages and handling the spectators… We also have volunteers at the media centre and the expo area,” explained Prateek, who hails from Gujarat.
“We have 140 volunteers in the transportation team. The matches start at 3 pm IST. We have to ensure they reach the venue by 2:30 pm or 2:45 pm. Players, officials and delegates are staying in a total of 21 hotels. We have a three-member team in each hotel. We have 75 members in the accommodation team. Twenty five volunteers have been dedicated for the FIDE (International Chess Federation) Congress,” said Prateek.
The AICF is about to pull off a man-made miracle in FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich’s words. It would not have been possible without these off-field heroes.