Life at a football stadium can seem glamourous. You see the star striker smacking in a free kick from 30 yards; you see a goalkeeper stop a penalty; you see the team arriving on the bus, all listening to their iPhones/iPods.
But what most people don’t see are the volunteers that make matchdays run smoothly. Especially in J2, where club budgets are pretty small, clubs rely on a small army of volunteers to assist with a myriad of things from cleaning the seats to setting up the trash collection stations; from distributing song lyric sheets to taking tickets at the entrance.
At FC Gifu, this volunteer group is called “Greens”, and they do an incredible job each and every matchday. My good friend Richy, also known as @GifuRichy on Twitter, has done this several times before so he knows how difficult yet rewarding it is. This is group that is at the ground long before the supporters and are there long after they have gone home. They even have their own website where you can read up on what they have been/are doing.
It can seem a pretty daunting thing to do, especially in those incredibly hot & humid summer months, but home games simply wouldn’t function with people to do the unseen things. I bet it isn’t nice trying to organize the huge amount of garbage that football matches create (of course i’m talking about off the field!) into burnable & non-burnables. And to sort the recycling into the correct bags. I have a hard enough time doing that at home, so I shudder to imagine what it must be like at a stadium. When you enter the stadium through the ticket gate at the Nagaragawa stadium, you get handed a nice bag with the matchday programme and other assorted leaflets/pamphlets. They don’t just appear in there, the Greens take the time to put the stuff in the bags, and then hand it to you when you enter the ground. Your seat in the main stand is clean? Of course it is, a volunteer has cleaned it prior to the gates opening. Even where the media get their passes, there is a volunteer or two on hand to help out the tireless PR staff.
So, next time you visit the beautiful Nagaragawa Stadium to see Gifu’s expensively assembled team, keep in mind that there is a group of volunteers who are working behind the scenes to make sure that your viewing experience is all that it should be.
I salute you, Gifu Greens! いつもお疲れさまです.