With the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games well underway, barely two years after the London 2012 Olympic Games the focus has returned to organisational aspects of such mega events, with discussion centering on how to make these events a success and of generating a legacy. The ‘games makers’, for example, were a prominent part of London 2012 and they highlighted just how important volunteers are to the running of sports events both large and small.
With this in mind, on September 10th the Business in Sport subject cluster hosts its first annual conference on this very issue, bringing together academics, practitioners and policymakers with a shared interest in sports volunteering. Keynote speakers include people with the ideal experience and expertise in this particular area, such as Keith Russell, Head of Sport and Events at Glasgow Life, the company that coordinated volunteers at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Taking place in the RIBA Stirling Prize 2014 nominated Benzie Building at Manchester School of Art, the conference aims to provide a platform for a variety of opinions from across the landscape as well as the opportunity to network, debate and share ideas around a number of key themes. Delegates will be invited to attend a mix of mini-keynotes, interactive workshops and practitioner-led seminars in order to encompass a diverse range of perspectives.
Catherine Elliot, Senior Lecturer at MMU and one of the conference organisers, worked as a volunteer during the 2002 Commonnwealth Games in Manchester. ‘We could not have sport without volunteers,’ she told Mike Sweeney on BBC Radio Manchester. ‘[Sport] has always needed people to volunteer and put their hand up.’
Sweeney’s programme on Monday 28 July was broadcast live from the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, and largely examined the legacy of those 2002 Games.
Catherine’s research interest in the importance of volunteers at mega events was born from her own volunteering experience:‘I was a timing assistant for both the triathlon and the marathon, which involved picking up the split times and running them up to the press office. Of course this wouldn’t happen now as they are probably done automatically.’
‘It was really good to be part of a huge event, a “mega event”, that was running in this country, and I have followed on with that, carried on volunteering, and now teach in this area of sport. It was the impetus to get me going in my career.’