It has been over 18 months since I sent off my application to be a Games Maker and over a year since my selection interview in July 2011. In early October 2011 I got an email confirming that I had been selected as a Team Assistant within the Olympic Family Services team. At times there didn’t seem to be much going on to justify this long time scale but the training and Games Maker communications stepped up since April.
I had my full day role-specific training event at Hackney Community College on Friday, 13 April. There were training sessions for several different teams going on with about 25 people in my session. Depending on the team we were being trained for, we had to follow different coloured footprints to find our way around the college. It was really nice to finally meet other Games Makers in my team, although I was surprised how few members of my particular team within the Olympic and Paralympic Family Services team were speaking other languages. The nature of our roles includes dealing with international officials and guests during the Games for whom English is often not their first language. As our roles are rather security sensitive, we were all very interested to find out more about the reality of being a Games Maker in this particular team.
The day started with some motivational videos and the question of what inspired us to become a Games Maker. Next we went through a refresher of some of the things we learnt at the Wembley event in February and some health and safety instructions.
We then had a session on the history of the Olympic movement and learnt a vast number of acronyms for the different organisations involved in organising the Games and even more acronyms that will be used for venues and operations during the event. This ended with a quiz to test how much of it we had taken on board. I liked this session as discovering and processing information comes natural to me and I already knew quite a bit about the history of the Games.
The afternoon session went over some of the different roles that we might end up doing, from organising transport for members of the Olympic or Paralympic Family to manning information stands at the Olympic Family hotels, and certain tasks specific to the sports venues. This was quite confusing as everything was rather vague and won’t make much sense until we actually start our first shift. There were lots of practical questions around shift times, transport, what to do if you can’t work a shift and so on, which were answered as fully as was possible at this stage. The unexpected highlight of the day was a 40 minute discussion about pin collecting, which apparently is a huge part of every edition of the Olympic Games. The international guests bring lots of pins from their countries and some of these are so rare that they become commodities in their own rights!
It was an interesting day which answered some of my questions, threw up a lot of new ones and made me look forward to the Games even more.
In May, just before the Jubilee weekend, it was my turn to collect my uniform. I left work a bit earlier than usual to go to the UDAC (remember the bit about acronyms? – it stands for Uniform Distribution and Accreditation Centre) in East London.
First I was issued with my Olympic accreditation card and then it was a bit like walking through IKEA. There was only one way around the warehouse with different areas to fit and collect each different part of the uniform. As with the training, everything was very well signposted and the whole process took about 40 minutes. I was surprised by the special Games Maker Swatch watch we were given and found the shoes so comfortable that I wanted to wear them straight away! By the end everyone was sent home with a huge bag full of clothes which then had to stay in the wardrobe for another two months. When I saw the first pictures of the uniform, I wasn’t sure about the colours, but it looks and feels much better than I expected and I look forward to wearing the different parts of the uniform during and after the Games.
Getting our tickets
As Games Makers we did not receive any complimentary tickets for the sporting action but had to apply like everybody else. My partner and I went for a mixture of the main events like swimming and athletics, venues that would be easy to get to and sports that we have a connection with. When the allocations were announced, it turned out that we received just over half the tickets we applied for, although none for swimming, track cycling or the Olympic Stadium. This included two women’s football games including the final at Wembley, archery at Lord’s Cricket Ground, volleyball at Earl’s Court, judo at the Excel and women’s hockey at the Olympic Park. The tickets arrived in two batches in June and it was just unbelievable to finally get our hands on them! Although I am very pleased that we will get to see so many events, I wish they had spread them out more evenly and given people at least one set of tickets before others got multiple sports.
The technical rehearsal
In early July I received an email offering me a free ticket to one of the two technical rehearsals for the opening ceremony! I could not believe my luck of getting to see the Olympic stadium before the official opening and replied straight away to say I was interested. About two weeks later I received another email with the actual ticket and I have been counting down the days until 23 July ever since.