Malabar man officially named oldest volunteer at 2010 Fifa World Cup

Malabar resident Amrit Daya, who worked as a volunteer at the 2010 Fifa World Cup, has officially been named the oldest volunteer at the tournament. He was 79 then and is now a month short of his 90th birthday
CELEBRITY STATUS: Malabar resident Amrit Daya, who worked as a volunteer at the 2010 Fifa World Cup, has officially been named the oldest volunteer at the tournament. He was 79 then and is now a month short of his 90th birthday
Image: Brian Witbooi

A lifetime goal of leaving a legacy of service has seen an 89-year-old Malabar man adding another feather to his cap after officially being named the oldest volunteer at the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Amrit Daya recently received an appreciation letter for being the oldest volunteer at the games from Fifa’s volunteer tournament manager, Anne-Catherine Ienne .

Daya, who will be turning 90 on July 18, said he had always lived a life based on serving others.

He said since he retired in 1963, he had done a lot of social work and also represented the faith-based committee of the Nelson Mandela Bay Council for the Hindu religion.

“I just decided to apply to be a volunteer. I was 79 years at the time. I had forgotten that I had even applied and six months later the Sunday Times called me, they told me out of 69,000 volunteers I was the oldest one.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was stationed as a team leader at the airport, just imagine a 79-year-old waking up at 4am every day.

“I had a terrific time during the Fifa 2010 World Cup. I was interviewed by so many media groups from France, South Africa, Germany, and the BBC interviewed me as well.”

Among other things, Daya said he enjoyed being treated like a celebrity during the World Cup due to the amount of media coverage he got and he cherished 2010 as a golden year for him.

“I turned 80 years on Madiba Day in 2010, I celebrated my 60th wedding anniversary on April 9, I met dignitaries from all over the world, but unfortunately we couldn’t meet the players.

“They arrived in different airports, but one of my fondest memories was when one of the dignitaries at the airport said this was the best World Cup that they had been to,” Daya said.

“Not many countries could manage to host such a world event, for Africa, specifically South Africa, to host such a world-class event we need to pay tribute to the administration."

Daya said he thought he wouldn’t live beyond 80. And on the brink of 90 years he said he wanted to continue to leave a legacy of serving.

“I’m excited that I’ll be turning 90 in July. My children wanted to plan a party for me, but due to the lockdown we won’t be able to have a gathering so I just wish to have a thanksgiving prayer,” Daya said.

He said while he had served politically under the apartheid regime, he stopped after the country attained democracy.

“I’ve worked in villages, I’ve assisted people in the worst conditions, I hope my children will continue to do charitable work — my son and daughter are currently continuing to give as well,” Daya said.

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