Thursday, 9 February 2017

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Volunteering - London 2012 Olympics



*Originally posted 20.05.2013.  Edited 09.02.2017*  I was lucky enough to be picked to be a volunteer at the Olympics in 2012.  The London 2012 volunteers were called Games Makers.  The process started way back in 2010, however, my involvement started a little later than that.  I originally applied for a paid role, but in hindsight I am so glad I didn't get the job!  240,000 people applied to be Games Makers with only around 70,000 being chosen.  When I received a call inviting me to be a Games Maker I was over the moon to have been picked.

Even thought the Games were awarded to London, the football events were held in Glasgow, Newcastle, Coventry, Manchester and Cardiff as well as in London.  The role I was offered was Athlete Services Assistant, to be based at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow.  And for it to be looking after teams of footballers, being a football fan myself, the role couldn't have been better!  I couldn't have asked for a better location either, as I was living a mere 5 minute walk away from the hotel!  The role and my experience as a whole was far better than I had expected.  

There were a few training days which took place at Hampden Park, and at the Hilton and Marriott hotels in Glasgow.  I also had to go and collect my uniform and accreditation.  These were great as we got to meet fellow volunteers, as well as the people who were going to be in charge of us.  There wasn't too much to learn as such, just the way it was all going to work.  The most important thing for me was gaining familiarisation of the Marriott hotel, and getting to know the people I was going to be working with a bit better.  I was super pleased that everyone I came across was so friendly.

with Clare & Preeti at Hampden Park for training.
I had to carry this huge box of clothing all the way from Hampden Park, on the train, and back to my flat!  It was about half the size of me, and as you can see from the box - it was raining!  Luckily I found someone else on the train with a box, and we bonded haha, the lovely lady I met on the train was called Izzy and she is one of the loveliest ladies around who does an awful lot of volunteering!
With every new outfit comes a photoshoot, right?  I didn't have any need to wear the cap as I was indoors all the time!
I didn't know exactly what I was going to be doing until my first shift, so it was a little nerve-wracking on my way to the hotel on the first day.  I loved the uniform we had though, and felt really proud to be wearing it and it was really comfortable!  It didn't take very long for me to walk to the hotel, and once I got there it had changed considerably since the familiarisation day - security had been stepped up big time; there were armed police on the doors, and me and my bag had to go through a scanner!

On my first few days there were no teams in, so it was good to be able to settle in to the role and get everything ready.  We had meeting/dining rooms to set up, as well as setting up the relaxation room - which was where our table was based!


Testing out the facilities before the teams arrived.
Based at the Marriott were Spain, Honduras, Morocco and Japan men's football teams.  Luckily I was on shift when each of the teams arrived.  They all arrived at different times, and there was a definite buzz around when we were expecting a team in!  One of the memorable arrivals was Honduras, as they were pretty late arriving, so that day was a long old shift - around 13 hours by the time we left, however, it did not feel like that.  The other memorable arrival was Spain.  Not long after they arrived, I had the task of showing the whole team up to where they needed to get their photographs for their accreditations.  I had to take them up in the lift, and even though it was only a couple of floors, they managed to fit in a whole song and were obviously pretty buzzing as they were jumping up and down and everything.  What a jolly bunch!

One of the main things that we had to do was be on hand to answer any questions or deal with any problems which arose. Over the course of my stint in the hotel, I had to deal with a few issues but it was mostly plain sailing.  We had to make sure everyone had the correct schedules and knew when they were going to training and matches, and one of the random tasks we had to do was order pizza for the whole of the Spanish team!  They even gave us a couple of pizzas which was really nice of them!  We also had to make sure the relaxation room was kept neat and tidy at all times.

Being stationed in the relaxation room - which was on route to all the meeting rooms and the entrance/exit - was a fantastic place to be.  In the relaxation room there was a tv, wii, pool table and table tennis tables as well as sofas to relax on.  The football teams were made up of up and coming stars as well as some who were already established.  It was really nice to observe the players from different teams mingling and unwinding.  We did actually get invited to play wii and table tennis a few times too!  Not many people can say that they have been beaten at Mario Kart by Real Madrid player Isco!  One of the days I also had an interesting conversation with 'Frank' who is a French member of the Olympic Committee - he was in promoting the Athlete's Commission.  As well as our Athlete Services team, some of the transport team were based with us - the ones who coordinated the travel between the Hotel and venues, and each of the countries had a Team Liaison Games Maker who were with the teams 24/7, so we got to meet other Games Makers too - along with everyone who was working at the Hilton looking after the women's football teams.


Mario Kart with Zouhair Feddal and Driss Fettouhi of the Moroccan team.
One thing that was really surreal was seeing the players leave on coaches, watching them play on TV, and then welcoming them back to the hotel afterwards!  And it is still quite weird now, when watching a football match on TV and seeing them.  It was a really nice place to spend 12 days, the Olympic buzz was phenomenal.

There were a few more highlights during my time as a Games Maker, one of these was when Cesar Azpilicueta came for a chat with me and Annie, who was the Team Liaison for Japan, introducing himself, asking our names and wanting to practice his English.  He was lovely, and every time he saw me he shouted 'Emma!' which was quite funny.  He ended up signing for Chelsea not long after the Olympics!  One of the other super lovely guys that I came across was Juan Mata, who had to borrow a charger from one of our team.  Actually, most of the people I came across were SO nice.


Don't really like this photo of me, but the lovely Cesar Azpilicueta!  This was actually one of my days off haha.

Another picture of me that I don't really like, but with the super sweet Juan Mata.
Another memorable thing was having to bring in my own wii remotes, as the hotel didn't have enough for the games, and as I lived five minutes away it was no bother me going to get mine!  Not many people can say they had Olympians using their wii remotes haha!


Zou Feddal of Morocco
and Zou Feddals autograph, on my arm.. he was obsessed with signing things!

It was very sad when the teams started leaving, but they were all in high spirits and excited about moving to their next destination.  On my last proper full day, Anthony (Team Liaison for Spain) took me to say goodbye to some of the team explaining to them in Spanish that it was my last day, and at the table were Juan Mata, Cesar Azpilicueta, Diego Marino and Adrian Lopez.  Each of them got up and gave me a hug and said thank you, which was really sweet of them!  I did end up going in for a couple of hours the next day to help dismantle everything, and the training staff from Spain were still around packing up their coach to leave.  They were just as fun as the rest of the team and wanted us to have a go with the training equipment... haha, so it ended up with me standing on a half ball thing having a ball thrown at me... goalkeeper in the making.

Weirdly, my last day coincided with the actual opening ceremony (there were so many football matches that a few needed to be played before the opening day!), so it was very weird sitting watching that on the TV thinking that that was me finished!  Must admit it was a very emotional ceremony and I did quite possibly have a little cry during it!

I just have so many memories flying round my head every time I think about it all!  I just can't find the words to describe them, they are moments that you just have to have been there to appreciate.  Luckily, I'm still in touch with a few of the people I worked closely with, and from time to time we reminisce about our memories.

with Stuart, my line manager

with Ben & Elizabeth - we were the 'dream team' and every day working with these two was so much fun!

Some of the team from the Marriott.  There were some offices upstairs also.

the Dream Team!


Preeti, myself and Liz at the welcome home parade for the Scottish athletes.
Volunteering at the London 2012 Olympic Games (albeit in Scotland) was a truly unforgettable experience - and has lead on to more fantastic volunteering roles - and I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to be part of something so amazing.


Javi Martinez

Ahh love this photo!  Lovely bunch including current Premier League players, on the right of me, from right to left - Ander Herrera, Juan Mata (both Manchester United) & Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea).

Love this pic too! Inigo, Tello & Montoya. 

Another really lovely guy, Maynor Figueroa.

My other half was a little jealous that I got to meet this guy - David De Gea, Manchester United goalkeeper.

Arnold Peralta - he actually signed for Rangers for a bit, and I kept in touch with him via twitter and had another photo with him when Rangers played Queen of the South.  Tragially, Arnold was killed in Honduras in 2015, which is so sad.

What a fantastic souvenir to have!  Signed by some of the Spain squad: César Azpilicueta, Ander Herrera, Javi Martinez, Alberto Botia,Juan Mata, David De Gea, Martin Montoya & Rodrigo Moreno.
I hope you enjoyed this post!  I certainly enjoyed re-reading and editing it, and even nearly five years on it just feels like yesterday! (Edited Feb '17)
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4 comments:

  1. Wow, this seems like a amazing thing to be a part of!
    I'll admit that I hadn't given much thought to the 2012 Olympics until the Opening Ceremony, then I was hooked!

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    1. It certainly was!
      Ah, I'd just finished a degree in sports studies, and I'm sports mad, so it came around at exactly the right time for me 😄.
      The opening ceremony was amazing 😍 would have loved to have been down in London, as I can imagine now it'd have been as buzzing as Glasgow when it was the commonwealth games! X

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  2. To be honest Emma, I was smiling the whole time I was reading this! It's so great to read all this and it must been a lovely time for you. ALSO, very jealous for you meeting all those football, OMG. haha absolutely loved reading this and I think you write very well!

    Marc | www.ohbuggerall.com

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    1. Thank you so much Marc! I'm glad my enjoyment came through in my writing! I still can't really believe it all happened! 😄

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