Live an experience and make unique human encounters. Create strong links between volunteers and with the organizing committee. These World Para Athletics Championships – PARIS’23 will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable memories. To discover the richness of the Volunteer Program, we went to meet several volunteers who worked on different events of the French Handisport Federation.
For this new portrait, it is with Thomas Caisman that we exchanged. Before retiring, the 67-year-old volunteer worked in train control for the SNCF. Thomas was present at the last Handisport Open Paris and has already applied to be part of the Para Athletics World Championships – PARIS’23. With us, he looks back on his adventure as a volunteer.
Hi Thomas. To begin with, how long have you been volunteering?
Thomas Caisman : « I started volunteering quite early, but it was really during the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France that my commitment took on another dimension. It’s from there that I also took pleasure in meeting people, in putting myself at the service of the competition, it’s really rewarding, you take a lot of pleasure. »
How long have you been volunteering with the Handisport Federation?
T.C : « It is in 2012, with the Paralympic Games of London that I started the adventure with the French Handisport Federation.»
How did you discover the para sport world?
T.C : « Through the Club des Volontaires du Sport, one of the main associations that provides volunteers for events. At the time, they had a lot of relations with the Federation, but there was no real structuring to find volunteers like today. The former secretary, whose name is Fathia, had an excel file and when there was a need, she contacted the people who were in it. That’s how I got into the adventure. »
What made you want to continue the adventure with the French Handisport Federation?
T.C : « After 10 years of volunteering with handisport, it is mainly the human relations that make me want to stay. The closeness with the staff and the athletes really made me want to continue the adventure. »
What are the different missions you have done?
T.C : « In 10 years, there have been many. There has been transportation, logistics, volunteer management, media, etc. For the last 4-5 years, I have also been the driver for Guislaine Westelynck, the president of the French Handisport Federation. And since 2019, I’ve been tasked with finding volunteers for the current demands of the federation. »
What has made the biggest impact on you as a volunteer?
T.C : « What has impressed me the most are the contacts with the athletes. They are so admirable in their work and so humble. They are much more grateful than elsewhere, I find. As a volunteer, it is a real source of motivation. »
Did you make connections with other volunteers as you went along?
T.C : « Of course, I have many close friends on the volunteer team. We have the chance to share many events and trips together, which forge a friendship so simple that we can only appreciate it. And to allow everyone to create links, I lead a Facebook group (#Team Bénévoles Handisport) that I invite you to join because it allows to put forward the different needs of the federation and to share content about what we do in events. »
What would you like to say to the general public to get them involved in the World Championships volunteer program?
T.C : « Don’t hesitate to jump into the adventure. When you get a taste of volunteering with handisport, you will stay for a long time because it is human relationships and enriching experiences that will make you grow. So join us for the Para Athletics World Championships – PARIS’23! »