What two city council employees, a dentist and a student had in common at a LOTTO EUROVOLLEY POLAND 2017? All of them worked as Team Guides to support the four best teams in Europe. As the tournament came to an end on Sunday, the Guides had to say goodbye to their teams after almost two weeks of working together. Unexpected tasks and 24h of availability sounds demanding and difficult, but Justyna, Agnieszka, Magda and Monika find it quite the opposite - as the best job in the world.
Justyna Rog was an inspiration for the story, simply describing the job as the best in the world. Her journey as a Team Guide began in 2009 at the Women EuroVolley in Poland, where she was appointed to look after team Spain. A few weeks later she started studying Russian philology and at a 2011 World League Final Six in Gdansk in Poland she met the Russian team for the first time.
“I always found Russian language and their culture very interesting,” she discusses her choice that gave her the job she loves so much. Justyna admits that it is not easy for Russians to open to new people, but she gained their trust rather quickly. A while after their first encounter at the Final Six in Gdansk, Russia were coming back to Poland for a friendly tournament, Wagner’s Memorial, which was part of their preparation to the 2011 EuroVolley in Austria. The event is not organised by the Polish Volleyball Federation, so she wasn’t sure she would be able to work with Russia again. The team wrote a letter asking if Justyna could work with them once more.
Two years later at 2013 EuroVolley in Poland and Denmark, Justyna was invited by Russia to accompany them in Copenhagen as a part of the team. Now she knows she is to be appointed a Team Guide every time she is available. “The Polish Federation already know who to appoint when Russians are coming. I don’t even have to be called,” she laughs. “I just receive a handbook and a schedule and I’m ready to join the Russians again. After working for so long with these guys I simply care about them and I am always ready to expect something unique,” Justyna said. One of the funniest tasks she had to face was arranging a night boat ride on the Baltic Sea when Russia won the World League Final Six in 2011, which she was unable to fulfil at a very late time of the night. When she is not a Team Guide, she works in a city council and will support Developres SkyRes RZESZOW in their debut Champions League season.
Magda Lamm’s experience in working at Volleyball events goes back to when she was 16 years old. She used to help her friend’s mother during charity events with Polish club Mostostal Kedzierzyn Kozle. After her school friend began to work for the Polish Federation, she joined her to work in rhe Competition Office of events organised in Poland, before moving onto her first Team Guide role with Serbian women's national team during the World Grand Prix. Since then she has worked with Serbian teams a few times and got to meet the team very well. “I am not sure if I am being assigned to Serbia on purpose,” she said. “But I guess it is easier to let us work with the teams we know.” The unwritten rule of working with Magda seems to be known to Serbia, who sometimes call her prior to events in Poland with first requests, so Magda arrives to work well prepared. From taking players for shoe shopping, to arrange their hairdresser appointments, one of the funniest moments she recalls was a bike trip with the team manager to fulfil the players’ “chocolate hunger” or lending Serbia her phone to take photos, when they forgot to bring their own for a medal ceremony. “They all know the code to my mobile, so whenever they want to take some photos, I just leave them the phone,” she explains. Outside volleyball Magda works as a dentist, which doesn’t stay in the way of working as Team Guide every now and then. “I don’t always have to use my annual leave to be here, I just say I am not available to receive any patients,” she laughs.
Photo: Magda Lamm with team Serbia on the podium of #EuroVolleyM
In contrast to experienced Team Guides such as Justyna Roguc and Magda Lamm, the newcomer 19-year-old Monika Szemik faced to work with not one but two teams as LOTTO EUROVOLLEY POLAND 2017 was her first ever event in this role. “A friend of mine told me about an opening for the role. The Polish Federation was looking for a person who speaks English and knows Volleyball quite well and will be available for the duration of #EuroVolleyM,” Monika recounts. She ticked all of the boxes and was appointed to work with team Turkey. “They are a wonderful team and very nice people,” she describes the Turkish team, who surprised with a great performance during the Pool Phase.
Once their journey finished at the Play-offs Phase Szemik meant to be finishing her job too, but was asked to remain in Katowice. Belgium's Team Guide was unable to work during the Final Phase and Monika was asked to step in her shoes to help Belgium throughout the rest of the competition. “Belgium are equally nice and very well organised,” she describes her new team. When talking about the biggest difficulties of her new role, she admits every task is a bit of a challenge. “It is a job that can last 24 hours, but these people make it a real pleasure,” she said. “They don’t make it feel neither like a long day at work or even a job at all at times!”. Having a great experience with both Turkey and Belgium, Monika assures she will definitely try to be available to work as a Team Guide on another occasion and is glad to have a job in sport prior to her upcoming studies. “I want to stay around the sports industry and it’s great that I get to work here so early into my professional life,” she says at the end.
The least Team Guide in Krakow was Agnieszka Bielak, who worked with Germany. LOTTO EUROVOLLEY POLAND 2017 was her third Volleyball tournament where she worked as a Team Guide. She previously worked at a Champions League - Women Final Four in Szczecin and at the 2014 FIVB World Championship when she worked with Cameroon. The latter came her way when her sister, initially appointed for the job, became unavailable. Her “sons”, as Agnieszka calls team Germany, stole her heart immediately. “I feel really appreciated, even for doing little things. They are open and nice people, who haven’t complained once, even if some issues come up during the tournament. They really enjoy being together and enjoy Volleyball. I'm glad I could watch them from so close,” she describes them. Working as a team guide is a nice break from her daily job at a city council. “I am very happy I had the chance to become a Team Guide. I will be hoping for more Volleyball events in Poland and that I will get to work with new teams or Germany again,” she admits at the end.