In cricket crazy India, I am a little different. I have been a lover of football and make sure that I do not miss any of the action during the FIFA World Cup. But I do not follow club football in Europe. It is the sheer love for the sport that has kept me connected with it.

In 2012, one day a friend told me how he had volunteered for some work during one of the European football tournaments. He told me that football’s global body, FIFA, too looked for volunteers whenever the World Cup was held. I checked the FIFA website and in September 2012 registered for the volunteer programme.

It took a while and I slowly began moving ahead in their selection process. They asked me why I wanted to become a volunteer, conducted an online training about FIFA, World Cup and its history and other related topics. Nearly 150,000 people applied for the volunteer programme. It took one full year and I suddenly found myself as one of the 1500 FIFA volunteers shortlisted from around the world. There were only 16 that were chosen from India and I was one of them!

I could have chosen from a few services for my volunteer work but I chose transport services. I was stationed at Port Alegre where I stayed for six weeks during the FIFA 2014 World Cup. My job was to make sure the transport services for the players, officials, referees, VIPs and local organising committee staff worked with clockwork precision for the five matches that were held there. Since I handled the transport services, I got to see players like Messi, Robben, Di Maria and the German Team very closely. It was like living a dream!

One of my fondest memories of the stay at Port Alegre was that the city is just like Bangalore, where I come from. It has a lot of immigrants, just like my home city.

I also have very fond memories of how, outside the stadium, Coca-Cola had set up a giant bottle, about 10 feet high. It was made using the coca cola cans . It is something that is etched in my mind three years later. Coca-Cola also had created specific mugs for each of the five matches and I have one of them as part of my memorabilia.

Being a volunteer has been the most satisfying experience of my life because you are doing it because you are passionate about doing it. I have been very passionate about football and will never ever forget the experience of being part of  the world’s biggest sporting event.