My story with the team of Senegal starts with a winning penalty from Sadio Mané against Egypt in the penalty shootouts of the AFCON World cup qualifiers. This qualification meant that I would spend the competition with the Lions of Teranga. My profile suited well with the African team as I am a native French speaker.
The job of the Team Liaison Officer (TLO) is paramount for the organisation of this major event. Our role, under the responsibility of the Q22 Team Services, was to accompany the team, from its arrival in Qatar to its final departure. The TLO is meant to stay with the team at the team hotel, be involved in all team activities related to the FIFA World Cup 2022 and be able to assist with their queries (transport, accommodation, training sites, local knowledge, etc.).
Being a Team Liaison Officer is a hell of a job. Ups and downs with unforgettable memories. It is a special job that requires a lot of social and professional skills. Being able to understand the culture of the people you are working with is crucial.
My day-to-day missions would vary a lot. It would also depend on the team’s activity (If it’s a match-day or not) and the team’s general organization (If they can easily follow their schedule, respect timings, etc.).
During a non-match day
During a non-match day, I would have missions such as: bringing a player to Aspetar with the doctors, make sure the meals buffet is well organized, follow administrative task that will be send to FIFA, help them to find a heat printing machine with to print on the jerseys, and assist them in every next-day activity (like going to the mosque, to the mall, etc.)
During a match-day
During match-days activities are very strict with important timings to follow. During the World Cup 2022, the team’s day was entirely organised around the match. I would:
- Assist them in the event requirements and preparation, such as: What to bring, administrative follow-up,
- Make them respect the timings to go to the match (we usually had to arrive at the stadium between 1h 45 min and 1h 20 min before the kick-off),
- Organise the fleet to go to the stadium and to come-back after the match, etc.
In my opinion, the best part about this job is that you are part of the inner circle of the National team since day one. Of course it depends on the team you are working with as some teams don’t want to have you around and some will depend a lot on you. But in my experience with the Senegalese Football Federation, I could really get into their intimacy while always respecting it, for instance in the dressing rooms or during pre-match or pre-training talks as I was 24/7 with them. I was able to develop a great relationship with the players, they were really outgoing with me. They asked me a lot of things during the competition, so I was in contact with them almost all the time. I felt grateful for their endless trust in me and my work.
By Louis Gasparini – 3rd Edition Alumnus of The FBA.