2016-12-20 13:33:00 CEST

“I’ve never been so close to the stars”

Paradise is: volunteering in beach volleyball

Pedro (right) gives the thumbs up at the A1 Major Klagenfurt with up-and-coming Austrian player Moritz Pristauz-Telsnigg. Pedro (right) gives the thumbs up at the A1 Major Klagenfurt with up-and-coming Austrian player Moritz Pristauz-Telsnigg.

“When you are crazy and passionate for beach volleyball, to be present at a professional tournament is like being in paradise.”

Now doesn’t that sound amazing? These glorious words are those of just one of the many hundreds of volunteers who help make the Swatch Major Series the biggest, brightest, and happiest tournaments on the beach volleyball calendar.

Pedro Chaparro was just one of these fun-loving, hard-working, Swatch Major Series heroes.

The Colombian, who is now living in Germany and finishing his PhD studies, fell in love with beach volleyball five years ago and has never looked back.

So, last summer, Pedro decided to do something about it - he went on to have the best time of his life.

He applied to be a volunteer at both the Poreč Major and the A1 Major Klagenfurt and, having impressed the volunteers team with his enthusiasm and love for the game, he was soon part of one big, happy, beach family at the legendary Croatian and Austrian events.

“Poreč was my first experience as a volunteer,” Pedro tells us. “My role, raker, but not just any field raker: I was one of the rakers on the Center Court, the main court which is unique, special and magic.

“In your shift you have a chair to sit on right on the sand – only the referees and ball boys and girls can be closer to the players.

“Seeing the players that I saw on TV now walking around me was a terrific feeling. This is no paradise – this is heaven and they are the stars.”

Having seen first-hand Alison/Bruno and Laboureur/Sude clinch gold in the finals beside the beautiful Adriatic location, Pedro wanted more.

“I wanted another chance to live at the top of beach volleyball from the inside at Klagenfurt,” he explains.

“My work this time was being part of the entertainment team on the Center Court. Together with Hannes and Jasmin (also in the picture above), we were responsible for distributing items from sponsors into the packed crowds using a slingshot. The Austrian people are crazy about beach volleyball and it really was an incredible experience.

“Being so close to the players is always such a thrill and I will never forget the time in Klagenfurt that I was walking alongside Kira Walkenhorst. We met one morning by chance on the street on the way to the courts. I didn’t know whether to talk to her or not, but I went for it and I’m so happy I did. I walked and talked with an Olympic champion and that is a memory that will last forever in my head.”

Pedro takes a morning summer selfie from the Center Court in Poreč. Pedro takes a morning summer selfie from the Center Court in Poreč.

Pedro is hoping once he has finished his PhD in telecommunications, he will devote more time to the sport he loves, but his message to any fan of beach volleyball wanting to volunteer in 2017 is to just go for it!

“Being a volunteer is a great life experience and you get to meet a lot of great people,” he says. “There is something beyond that paradise of being a volunteer and that’s being part of a great event.

“The success of the Swatch Major Series is thanks to the players, the host cities, the logistics teams and everyone behind-the-scenes. There are hundreds of people in different roles working all-day long to give the fans and the players an unforgettable experience.

“If you are crazy about this sport – be a volunteer for at least once in your life. Believe me: you will love it!”

If Pedro’s story has struck a chord with you and you would like to become a volunteer for our upcoming Fort Lauderdale Major in Florida in February, click here to find out how you can become part of something special as a volunteer.

See you at the beach!

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