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Special Olympics at UEFA EURO 2024: Excitement builds for athlete-volunteers in Hamburg!

Special Olympics athletes across Germany are in training to volunteer at UEFA EURO 2024 through a groundbreaking volunteering programme inspired by the inclusivity of Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. Today, we catch up with a trio of volunteers: Emilio Jungclaus Miranda, Menja Radke and Steffi Rückner—two athletes and a coach from Special Olympics Hamburg.
Two women and a man stand surround a large silver trophy mounted on a digital countdown clock which says UEFA EURO 2024.
Menja Radke, Emilio Jungclaus Miranda and Steffi Rückner, two athletes and a coach from Special Olympics Hamburg who are volunteering at UEFA EURO 2024

In the run up to UEFA EURO 2024—the third-largest sporting event in the world—we will chat to football fanatic Special Olympics athletes and coaches across Germany who are volunteering at the tournament. Emilio, Menja and Steffi are among the volunteers in Hamburg.

Emilio, aged 21, has been involved in judo and athletics in Special Olympics since 2018, but this June he will be turning his attention to football. His role will involve ticket checking at Volksparkstadion Hamburg. He is eager to meet football fans from throughout Europe. Although he does not expect to see any matches through his volunteering, he will be fortunate enough to catch some football action in his down time. Emilio says, “I was lucky and won tickets for the semi-final and the final in the official UEFA ticket lottery!” He is most looking forward to watching Spain (where he was born), Germany (where he lives) and Poland play but he is confident that Spain will win the tournament!

Meanwhile, Menja, who competes in triathlon, swimming and dancing with Special Olympics, predicts that the hosts Germany will win and is excited to watch Thomas Müller lead them to victory. Menja, aged 19 and involved in Special Olympics for the past two years, will work alongside Emilio and Steffi as a ticketing volunteer in Volksparkstadion. “I am most looking forward to ticketing and helping,” she says.

Steffi, a coach with Special Olympics for over 20 years, completes this trio of enthusiastic volunteers. Like Emilio, she is excited to meet fans from all over Europe as she checks their tickets and helps them find their way. Steffi is not certain who will clinch victory, “There are several good teams… France, Spain, maybe Germany...who knows!” Regardless of the winner, she values being involved in this football extravaganza. To add to the excitement, she will be celebrating a very special birthday at the first match in Hamburg!

EURO 2024 GmbH have stated that inspiration for the tandem volunteering initiative which Emilio, Menja and Steffi are taking part in came during the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. The Host Town Program at Berlin 2023, which welcomed the athletes to 200 locations across Germany, was the largest communal inclusion project in Germany’s history, motivated EURO 2024 organisers to follow this example of inclusivity.

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