The Kiwis who have helped behind the scenes at the FIFA World Cup

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As the FIFA World Cup comes to a close, many New Zealanders will leave Qatar after helping make the tournament a success, either as volunteers or by providing their professional skills behind the scenes.

Main photo: Nurse Diane Weston … one of the New Zealand volunteers at the World Cup.

Here’s our summary of experiences by New Zealanders who witnessed football’s showcase event …

… in the media room

Canterbury’s Coen Lammers was at his sixth FIFA World Cup, reporting on the event for Radio New Zealand. His coverage of the tournament included stories about the number of Kiwis involved in its running.

These included:

… providing technology support

Marc Williamson, from Lincoln, is the chief engineer at Lusail Stadium and he’ll be responsible for ensuring the stadium’s technology equipment gets the pictures from Monday’s final to your television screen in New Zealand.

… beside the pitch

Daniel Lammers (19), from Rolleston, provides support to the hundreds of photographers trying to capture the big moments on the pitch.

The Shameem family, from Auckland but living in Doha, volunteered to help and Taha Shameem got to be a ballboy during the Netherlands game against the United States.

… keeping the transport moving

Tauranga’s Diane Weston took time off her nursing job to volunteer on the transport desk in the Doha media centre.

“The different aspects of organising this World Cup has been phenomenal and it has been amazing to get a look inside that huge operation and be part of it,” she told RNZ.

… at the 32 training venues

Cantabrian Kevin Clarke has been running the media operations at the 32 training venues, and he arrived in Qatar in May to help set up media operations at Lusail Stadium.

“I know it sounds cliché but we are all living the dream here. If you love football, the World Cup is the pinnacle. I am privileged to be part of this event,” Clarke says.

… at the turnstiles

Auckland maths teacher and sports fanatic Omar Dada took time off work to be one of five New Zealanders among the 20,000 volunteers from around the world to help at the tournament. He greeted fans as they arrived at the turnstiles.

1News caught up with Dada before he left for the tournament for a story that was broadcast on Breakfast.

Watch 1News’ story

READ MORE: The fan who’ll proudly represent New Zealand at the FIFA World Cup >>>>

… in the matchday office

Aucklander Chris Kemp has been the FIFA match commissioner at seven matches, including the semi-final between Argentina and Croatia.

“Seeing my name on the same team sheet with some of the biggest names in the game, was also a bit surreal. That team sheet might have to go into the pool room,” says Kemp, who works for the Oceania Football Confederation as their competitions director.

Aucklander Michael Song has also been working as a match co-ordinator for FIFA, helping teams in the lead-up to matches.

… in the middle

Palmerston North’s Matt Conger took the whistle for France’s final pool game against Tunisia and made the headlines when he disallowed a French ‘goal’ in stoppage time. Fellow New Zealander Mark Rule was an assistant referee at the game.

Referee Matt Conger warms up with assistants Tevita Makasini and Mark Rule before the match between Tunisia and France in Al Rayyan, Qatar. Photo: Mike Hewitt, FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images.

READ MORE: New Zealand referee at centre of controversial decision to disallow French ‘goal’ >>>>

READ MORE: FIFA dismiss French protest about decision by New Zealand referee >>>>

… on the pitch

Well, almost.

Former All Whites Ryan Nelsen and Ivan Vicelich, and Football Ferns legend Maia Jackman, got to play in the FIFA Legends Cup, a two-day tournament on the rest days between the semi-finals and play-off for third.

They lined up against some of the greatest names in the sport.

Kiwi legends play for the East Tigers at the FIFA Legends Cup. Photo: Ivan Vicelich social media.

READ MORE: Kiwi football legends get to play at Qatar tournament after all >>>>

… in the stands

Enjoying the football from the stands were 16 lucky fans from New Zealand, in Qatar after landing prizes in the NZ Football Foundation’s World Cup Lottery.

They paid $20 to buy a ticket in the lottery and they return home with memories to last a lifetime.

One winner, from the Mainland Football region, said a highlight was meeting the other lottery winners (‘the Kiwi contingent’) and the trip was “awesome”.

Another winner, from the Northern region, returned home with more than just a football experience.

He proposed to his partner while on the trip and they head back to New Zealand as an engaged couple.

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