For almost two years Esther Lutterman was looking forward to it, from the moment - in August 2019 - she saw a call for volunteers to help at Euro 2020. “I love soccer and thought it would be so much fun to experience such a gigantic event close up.” But handed to her on a plate it was not: the communication advisor at TU/e department Mathematics and Computer Science wasn't simply asked to submit her CV, she also had to complete a questionnaire and write a letter of motivation. Then she had an interview. “At that stage I took lots of tests, including to see whether I really do speak my languages: English, German, French and Spanish.” And after that there were further online tests to pass before she received her accreditation. “Getting into TU/e was easier than this,” she laughs.
In January she heard she had been selected. January 2020 that is. Then along came corona and Euro 2020 was postponed. “UEFA was supposed to keep us informed of the changing plans, and they were true to their word. Last December it became clear that the tournament would be played this summer.” Finally, she could get started as a volunteer, within the domain ‘volunteer management’.
In practice, for Esther this means fifteen shifts spread over three weeks, each at another place and doing a different task. So, for example, before Sunday evening's match she helped decorate the seats in the Johan Cruijff Arena in the colors of the teams playing - orange/black and blue /yellow; she and seventeen other volunteers were asked to carry a huge banner showing the Amsterdam skyline and weighing 250 kilos onto the pitch - “heavy work, you know, especially wearing a face mask”; and before that she had been asked to say a firm 'no' to ‘difficult customers’ in the UEFA's accreditation center. “And I've worked at the International Broadcasting Center, where they direct the visual broadcasting of all the matches. That's done here in the Netherlands, you see. In Expo Haarlemmermeer, an events facility.”
The corona pandemic has, of course, given everything a new twist. “All the time, wherever we are, we have to wear a face mask and in the volunteers' area the chairs are spaced 1m50 apart. The planned parties aren't happening, every day we have to fill in a checklist and like everyone else, we can only enter the sealed-off security zone surrounding the ArenA if we have a negative test result.” But it's still a fantastic experience, Esther says. “It's so sociable and so much fun; it feels so good to be back among people after this past year. I think that's what prompted the outburst in the stadium on Sunday evening, it was a huge release of pent-up emotion.”
There are another three matches to be played in Amsterdam: Oranje's next pool matches and a quarterfinal - and Esther will be there every time. “My secret hope is that Italy comes second in their pool,” says this fan of the ‘Azzurri’. “Then they'll play in Amsterdam on June 26th. But I fear they are just too good and are going to win their pool.”