Skip to content

Stepping beyond the comfort zone

2 min read

Anyone who works in sport knows that it's not (only) about what happens on the pitch or at the venue. It's also about working as a team, about supporting and encouraging each other.

Every season, 10 to 12 volunteers act as venue managers for the Champions Hockey League (CHL) to ensure the smooth running of a CHL match day. In their “normal life”, the volunteers work in different positions for the CHL’s media and marketing partner Infront. Infront supports this voluntarily role in coordination with the respective line manager and grants the corresponding days off.

The assignment as CHL Venue Manager is in high demand: "It was super exciting for me to be able to take a look at a different sport," explains Alina Leitner when discussing her motivation to volunteer. She normally works at Infront Austria in the team for the Nordic winter sports disciplines - cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. In this function she is also involved in many events – same as her colleague Daniel Osterauer, who works as a project manager for biathlon among other things. "Working as a venue manager at the CHL gave me the opportunity to get to know new people, learn more about ice hockey and work together with colleagues from other Infront departments," says Daniel.


Unlike Alina and Daniel, many of the other volunteers daily operate in classic corporate functions like accounting, HR or marketing, where they normally have little interaction with event management. Clément Baschet from the French Marketing & Development team: "As a venue manager you have autonomy, responsibility and get to know completely new tasks. I have found this enriching."


The volunteer job can indeed be challenging. Venue managers are responsible for the smooth running of the match day and are therefore the direct contact person on site for the CHL, Infront, the hockey clubs, sponsors and broadcasters. The volunteers must ensure that all marketing and media rights of the CHL partners are fulfilled, which means they need to check the advertising on the ice surface and players' equipment as well as TV graphics, camera angles and technology before the game.



"The TV broadcast check in particular pushed me out of my comfort zone at first," admits Clément. "I had to make sure that the broadcast of the game would look good." However, in the end, he said, he personally benefited the most from the tasks that were new to him.

Corinne Kälin, who normally works in HR at Infront, also had to break the mould: "As venue manager in Aalborg, Denmark, I had to lead all the briefings with the clubs, broadcasters and officials - even though I normally don't like standing in front of people. But everyone was so nice and supportive that after day one I wasn’t shy anymore."



All venue managers agree that their job for the CHL not only provided them with lots of new impressions and a unique experience working at a major sport event, but also boosted self-confidence: "I still benefit from my experiences at CHL games in my day-to-day work," says Leon Peters. He oversaw the SAP Arena in Mannheim in the 2023/24 season. "During the events, there were often questions from various stakeholders such as clubs, broadcasters or spectators that couldn't be answered directly. In such situations, it was important to keep calm and find a solution. These moments outside my comfort zone allowed me to grow personally and professionally and showed me how important it is to accept new challenges in order to develop further."


Everyone benefits from the volunteer work of Infront employees: "In the 2023/24 season, the CHL played in 23 arenas in 12 European countries. The commitment of my colleagues at Infront allows us to cover about 50% of the venues managed by our own people,” says Enrico Brunold, CHL Project Manager at Infront. “For larger distances, the colleagues remain stationed locally throughout the entire assignment. This has clear advantages for the CHL and us as the co-responsible organiser: We know the working conditions, minimise travel expenses and guarantee the quality of the service. At the same time, we give our employees the unique opportunity to be in the middle of the action, learn new skills and get a taste of event work." Infront and the CHL will keep working with volunteers again next season.