Thursday, 26 July 2012

London 2012 kicks off in style

By now, most of Great Britain is in an excited state of anticipation awaiting the opening ceremony of the 30th Olympiad in London on 27th July.

But here in (very) sunny Coventry our games have already started! Whoo hoo!!!

Wednesday 25th July saw the first games of Olympic football taking place around the country.
Cardiff  ‘kicked off’ the football at 4pm but Coventry followed closely behind with the first match beginning at 5pm.
Our first match here in Coventry was a ladies match, Japan versus Canada and I was thrilled to be chosen as one of the voluntary city ambassadors on duty outside the stadium to guide the visitors to the correct place.

My day began in the sports centre at Coventry University where the volunteer ambassadors and team leaders gathered for a pre match briefing and to be assigned our posts.
Ambassadors were placed at key points in the city, for example at the rail and bus stations and at the Live Site where a giant screen will show all of the Olympic action. These volunteers were in place to greet visitors and direct them to the free shuttle bus services to the City of Coventry Stadium.

I was assigned a post at the stadium and my role, along with my ambassador partner Mike, was to generally keep the crowds happy, hand out wall charts and other information and be aware of any potential problems.

The fans began to trickle in around 3pm, having been told to allow up to two hours before the game for clearing security. Initially there was a slow but steady stream of people, a mix of Japanese and Canadian fans plus lots of Brits and a few other nationalities.

I absolutely loved being part of this special day. Talking to visitors, helping with wheelchairs, ticket enquiries, pointing people to the first aid point, steering people to security and to the correct entrance and even at one point calling for the St Johns Ambulance guys when a pregnant woman had a nose bleed. Thank goodness it was just a nosebleed – for one awful moment I thought I was going to be part of an East Enders type situation where someone gave birth while Olympic events were happening around her!

Towards the end of my six hour shift I noticed a definite change in attitude for some visitors. The day was incredibly hot and I think this contributed to a few latecomers getting frustrated with the need to pass through security and walk around the stadium to find the right entrance.
There were no real problems, just a few grumpy remarks about how they only had small bags, or mutterings about having already walked around the stadium in one direction only to be told they had passed their entrance and needed to go back.
I did feel very sorry for these guys because I know how it feels to be hot and frustrated, but all I could do was smile, sympathise and say I hoped they would enjoy the match.

My next shift is Tuesday 26th for the men’s match of Belarus v New Zealand which kicks off at 7.45pm. So if anyone out there is coming to the game let me give you a few tips:
  • ·         Everyone needs to go through security, no matter how big or small your bag is. Look for the security stations as you arrive at the stadium, don’t immediately head for your entrance as you will need to go back to be checked.
  • ·         When going through security, don’t let them seal your tickets or wallet inside the security bag (yes, this happened a lot yesterday!) You will definitely need your tickets to get into the stadium and you might need your money for any official merchandise purchases before you go inside.
  • ·         Drink lots of water as you travel but remember you can only take 100ml (hardly anything) into the stadium. There are plenty of places inside to get water so don’t be tempted to buy big bottles on the way to the stadium.
  • ·         Your tickets will tell you which stand (North, South, East or West) your seat is in. As you arrive at the stadium take note of which stand you see first. This will help you to head in the right direction. We saw so many people yesterday who arrived at the West stand and walked past North and East to get to the South. It’s a very long way around the outside of the stadium!
  • ·         Don’t bring any restricted items. Restricted item information was enclosed with tickets but includes things like golf umbrellas, vuvuzelas, drums, etc. These will be confiscated by security.
But the most important thing to remember if you are visiting is:

  • ·         Those lovely ambassadors in pink & purple have volunteered to be there to help you. Say hello and have a chat. We are looking forward to meeting you!
By the way, just in case anyone is interested, yesterday’s result was 2-1 to Japan.

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