Whichever way you look at it, doing a good deed or helping someone out always feels so rewarding.
For me, the best way to do this is by volunteering. I’ve written before about the voluntary work I’ve done over the years but seeing as this week was National Volunteers Week and it’s just over 100 days until the start of the Rugby World Cup, I thought I’d write a bit about what I’ve been up to.
Rugby is a huge part of my life and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved at some wonderful community clubs and carried out various roles over the last 10 years. I was therefore always going to find a way to be involved with the Rugby World Cup. To be hosting the tournament in England (with a few games over in Wales) and building on the incredible success of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the team at England 2015 are working incredibly hard to ensure our nation delivers one of the best sports tournaments the world will have ever seen. And I have no doubt, it’s going to be amazing.
Last summer was my first involvement with the World Cup, as I was part of the Volunteer Interviewer Programme (VIP) who carried out interviews across the 11 host cities for the thousands of people who had applied to become tournament volunteers. The wide variety of people I got to meet and interview who all wanted to volunteer for different reasons was so memorable. There were adults of all ages and from all backgrounds and professions who felt strongly about volunteering and about being involved in the Rugby World Cup.
As we entered the World Cup year, I applied and was accepted to be part of the Training Operations Programme (TOP) who will help facilitate and train the volunteers selected for the tournament. I will be assisting with the training for the Villa Park volunteers, here in my home city of Birmingham. For those who know Birmingham, you’ll know its a die-hard football city. Some of the country’s longest-standing clubs are here and we have a number of Premier League and Championship clubs in or around this area of the West Midlands. To bring a couple of Rugby World Cup fixtures here is massively exciting. It opens up my beloved sport to a new community of people and I am passionate about ensuring that we deliver as a city, proudly welcome locals and visitors, and share our sport in the best way we can.
Finally, the most exciting role I have been offered is during the tournament itself. I am a member of the match services team at Twickenham Stadium (England’s home of rugby). This means that for the games held at Twickenham, I will be in the stadium to assist the teams, officials, operations team and anyone else who needs me. It is a role I am thrilled to undertake and a role I will relish and treasure the memories for the rest of my life.
England 2015 received 20,000 applications from people wanting to volunteer at the World Cup, which is breathtaking. Around 10,000 were then invited to interview and 6,000 were ultimately selected for various roles. These volunteers will be in place for teams including accreditation, anti-doping, spectator services, transport, catering and more. In May, the volunteers met as one big team for the first and only time (because we’ll all be spread out in the different host cities). It was a brilliant day; well-run, fun, informative and served only to make me more excited for the autumn.
(unveiling the volunteer uniform)
I have no doubt that the experience I’ve gained as a volunteer over the past 10 years served me well in assisting me to get the roles I have been offered for the Rugby World Cup. I cannot wait for September and October and I cannot wait to share my passion and love for this game with so many more people. Bring it on!