When news happens, text BAZ and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
"Our man at the Games" - Making friends!
11:27am Friday 3rd August 2012 in Sport
My day off was all too short – by the time I had been home for a couple of nights it was back on the road again. I won’t be home again till a day or so before the Games end but I will be there on the last day for the final. So it’s the 2nd August the day after Team GB seemed to have found their inspiration delivering the first rush of gold medals. I am on the late shift today, which is a new experience; particularly looking forward to walking through the Olympic Park at night. But at West Ham station someone says Hi – shaking me out of my thoughts – I remembered him as part of a team I met on my first day going round the venues chatting to volunteers taking photographs – the “personnel” team charged with keeping our spirits up. He tells me that I am in the latest edition of the Aquatics venue newsletter chatting to me briefly – I was surprised as I had forgotten all about it but found my curiosity being stimulated while I pounded into “Workforce Check in”. I picked up an A4 photocopied sheet and there on the back was a smiling picture of myself looking back at me with a short write-up which was all very human. I was surprised that during the day a number of my colleagues referred to my “fame” – I suppose the objective of this very simple but smart initiative was to create a topic for discussion which helps to strengthen our new “unity of purpose” as a “team” – well it worked!
There were a few new faces on this shift with me now beginning to feel like a “veteran” – I still continue to be amazed at the variety of people who have heard the Olympic call and the distances they all have travelled - one from Bristol another from Manchester all with particular stories of friends or relatives in London with whom they are staying. We are soon assigned our duties – each shift has two team leaders – this time there are two men from different ends of the age spectrum both complementing each other but they have decided that they will do away with the whole mass of the shift rotating every hour but split us into two smaller teams. This works well as it is less disruptive and everyone has a chance to do a slot on the stand – hence being able to see a game. The venue is still very well supported with few seats remaining empty – what is exhilarating is witnessing the huge range of emotions while the game progresses including the intensity of noise generated by over five thousand people screaming their hearts out!
The period on the stand soon comes to an end and I find myself on “corridor” duty often in the company of others from different functional teams. It seems there are quite a few of us; at times it does seem as if there are too many people in our bright uniforms crowding the gangways but what with sickness and the occasional person who can’t make it I suppose one needs the numbers? But, although I don’t look forward to this job it was the first time I got chatting to a member of the armed forces. There were three guys assigned to us of varied ages but all quite willing to be part of our Team - dressed very smartly in uniform. It appears that the “services” have taken over a country park which has cost the organisers some 16 million pounds to kit out (unconfirmed!) There is much satisfaction with the facilities including the food – but although the sleeping quarters are modern and quite high –tech – they are in a container divided into four rooms – the big concern is that it’s a bit cramped and its difficult to “iron the kit”. They tell me that some 20,000 service men and women have been drafted into the Olympic Park, a larger number than currently deployed in Afghanistan – some feel that it’s a bit “over the top” given that there are security contractors on site with so many of us volunteers checking accreditations at different doorways – but they mention the fact that seeing people in uniform does give everyone a feeling of comfort.
We also talk about their service experience – one had seen service in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan – we talk about a variety of issues from the wisdom of the deployments to the obvious affection he has for the Afghan people. They are “all human beings interested in making a living looking after their families, homes and livestock” – they soon find that “we are not there to disrupt their lives being human ourselves” – it’s the maturity and depth of his views that are engaging. Also his knowledge of the history of the region was very well developed. There was no sign of malice or bitterness towards anyone – he was doing a job and that was that. We talked about the “cuts”- again he listed all the things that were taking place including a number of friends who had “left” the service – but all this was a description of fact. He was now interested in his next deployment in the Olympic park which was the stadium and if he was going to be in it when the men’s 100 meter final was being run. I thoroughly enjoyed his company.
I was then moved out to the transport drop off point which brought this conversation and the shift to a close. I walked back to the station through the Park now looking lovely sparkling in the dark – it was lovely!
Yinnon Ezra MBE
Comments are closed on this article.