Lecturer wins volunteering award at the World Cup
23 December 2022
Lecturer Arjun Wara has won the Best European Fan Leader award for his voluntary work at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Arjun is a medical lecturer in Simulation and Immersive Technologies in the School of Health Sport and Bioscience, but in Qatar Arjun was a Fan Leader for the England team.
He helped organise the England fans' element of the opening ceremony, as well as arranging fan meetups, unrolling messages of support for the team and generally supporting the England fans while they were in Qatar.
"It was an amazing experience to be a part of. It was electric everywhere - everyone was singing and dancing in the street and in the stadiums. The England fans came into full force," said Arjun.
Before the tournament started, Arjun did a lot of work leading up to it, including working on messages aimed at supporting the players, particularly those who had been subjected to racist abuse online after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 tournament.
He also worked with Football Beyond Borders, an education and social inclusion charity which works with young people.
It was because of Arjun’s excellent work that he was awarded the Best European Fan Leader award at a special awards ceremony.
"I was so surprised," said Arjun. "I was not expecting it at all, but it was such a proud moment."
As part of his prize, Arjun won a ticket to see the World Cup final, which he said was an incredible experience.
And separately, he also met David Beckham, a childhood hero of his.
As part of my work as a fan leader, one of the things I'd organised for this tournament was the 'Fans World Cup' which FIFA started for the first time. "FIFA wanted us to do a training session before the England vs Iran game. I was told that David Beckham was going to be attending, and wanted to speak to us too. He is a very nice guy. "It was such a cool moment meeting Beckham in the flesh, and we also got to have a Q&A session with him," Arjun added.
Arjun, an Arsenal fan, is now back working at UEL, and is keen to continue his Fan Leader role in future tournaments.
Follow Arjun on Twitter @arjgybargy
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