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Shirokikh spends memorable month as volunteer at Euro 2012

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper works with game operations crew, meets several star players

July 2, 2012

Shirokikh spends memorable month as volunteer at Euro 2012

VESTAL, N.Y.—Without question, the Binghamton men’s soccer coaches and players were following the Euro 2012 Championships the past month. Then there was redshirt freshman goalkeeper Steven Shirokikh, who not only got to see Euro 2012 in person, but worked as a volunteer and was on the sidelines for all of the match.

Shirokikh hails from Staten Island, but was born in the Ukraine, which along with Poland, hosted Euro 2012. Going back to his birth country to watch a high profile championship was reason enough for him to be there. But originally, Shirokikh intended to just go as a fan.

“I went on the UEFA Euro 2012 website and looked at possibly buying tickets for the tournament since I was born in the Ukraine,” he said. “Then I saw an opportunity to be a volunteer. So I applied for the fun of it. Eventually, I went through several Skype interviews with volunteer coordinators and then got an email stating I got the job. Once I signed and sent the contract back, I was officially a volunteer.”

When he arrived in Ukraine to work at Euro 2012, he was placed in the Match Organization Department, under the direction of UEFA Match Director Marcello Alleca from Italy. He then worked with a group of four other people, who controlled all match operations.

“Basically, we did everything soccer related the day before the match and the day of the match,” he said. “We pumped up the balls and hand them over to the refs, we prepared the home, away, coaches, and referees dressing rooms. We set up the field for the warm up, as well as, the stadium seats for special guests. We are the volunteers who make sure the match is going according to plan. We are the closest to the field and the players out of all the volunteers.”

Being so close to the action gave Shirokikh his biggest highlight of the tournament.

“During the England-Sweden game,  I sat right behind Wayne Rooney, who was suspended for that game,” he said. “I got to shake his hand and say hello to him. After the first goal was scored by England, the camera showed him and you could see me in the background. I got several text messages and emails throughout the day saying I was on ESPN and people even sent me pictures of it to me.”

Rooney was far from the only famous player Shirokikh got to interact with.

“Shaking the hand of three of my favorite players—Gianluigi Buffon, Mario Balotelli, and Andriy Shevchenko—was great,” he said. “Just being at the stadium and just seeing these great players walk by me and taking pictures of them is a great experience in itself.”

While he was thousands of miles away from the Binghamton campus, Shirokikh kept in touch with many of his teammates and coaches during Euro 2012.

“Several of the guys contacted me on a weekly basis to see how the experience was going,” he said. “Some of the coaches even stayed in contact with me during my trip here.”

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