It's not hard to find good help in Ottawa

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

The call went out more than a year ago.

It was quickly answered -- and then some.

As host of eight tournament games for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Ottawa organizers needed to sign up with volunteers. The recruiting started, by word of mouth, in the local soccer community. No advertising would be required.

"We had to turn people away," said Diane Drouin who, along with Nicola Maule, is the co-director of the volunteer services. "On May 2, we had a general training session at Lansdowne Park. We told people what would be required of them. We said, 'If you don't think it's for you, we understand. You can back out now.'

"Not only did nobody back out, but they went and told friends and we got bombarded with more requests."

CAP SET AT 400

The cap was set, and a total of 400 volunteers were brought on to perform duties essential in running a tournament of such magnitude as FIFA's U-20 World Cup.

The volunteer jobs include team liaison officers, stadium hosts, security, runners, ball boys, seat cleaners, program sellers .... and the first day on the job for most was Saturday, for the opening-night doubleheader.

Everyone will be back at Frank Clair Stadium performing their chores tomorrow, when the Czechs take on North Korea at 5 p.m. and Panama plays Argentina at 7:45.

A couple of thousand tickets are still available for those matches.

"They did a fabulous job," Drouin said of the volunteers' opening-night efforts. "Everybody was very eager to help.

"People have put in long hours, there was a lot of sineage and a lot of fine tuning of cosmetics at the venue, so that when we opened the gates it would be as seamless as possible. The community really rallied together."

THIRD CHILD

Drouin, who's from Buckingham, gave birth to her third child in the early stages of the project. Tessa Drouin even accompanied mom to work for the first six months of her life.

A striker/goalie in the Gloucester Moms' recreational league, Drouin previously worked with Maule when the two were co-directors of the Canadian Ski Marathon and were in charge of 600 volunteers. She called on her friend again when she needed help in her final stages of pregnancy, and Maule was quick to accept.

"Both Nicola and I have said this is the best team of directors and managers we've ever worked with, because of their professionalism and experience," said Drouin. "They know what they're doing. It's a close team."


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