Birmingham: A 72-year-old retired teacher, a 20 year-old engineering student, NHS nurses and an Indian techie are among the 13,000 ‘happy faces’ who are volunteering at the ongoing Commonwealth Games here. A lot of them are lovers of sports while others want to give it back to “Birmingham”, a city that has been nice to them. Volunteers are vital to success of any major sporting event and coming from all walks of life, they are doing all they can to ‘make a difference’.
“I have never done something like this. I wanted to do my bit for the city where I have lived all my life. I am retired now, I don’t want to go (die) sitting on a chair, sipping hot chocolate and watching television.
“I want to remain in a high-paced environment till the end. You want to keep working,” 72-year-old Barry Leig Prever told PTI.
Those interested had to enrol themselves for the volunteering program last year with minimum age requirement being 18. No upper limit was set, like it is usually the case in multi-sporting events.
Since it is not a paid job, getting to be part of the Games is a major attraction.
Amitabh Shrivastava, who is working with tech-giant Wipro in the UK for the past nine years, is a self-proclaimed badminton fan. Having done his shift for the day, he came to watch India play South Africa at the badminton arena at the National Exhibition Centre.
“I love badminton. P V Sindhu is my favourite player. With this I can serve the city of Birmingham and also get to guide the athletes in a small way,” the 50-year-old from Jaipur said.
Nurses from UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are also part of the medical services. The NHS workers were hailed for their selfless work during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have seen the worst during the pandemic as nurses and now when things are getting back to normal, it is fantastic to be in an environment like this. You get to meet so many people and also serve society,” said Justine North, a 60-year-old resident of Wolverhampton.
Also part of the gig is a full time London-based photographer and PhD student of sports science.
“I am doing my PhD in sports science and this event is all about sports. It is a melting pot as well and you get to meet people from all around the world,” added 24-year-old Georgia.