Memories for life: volunteering at London 2012 and B2022
13th July 2021
Phil Gibbin reflects on his fondest memories from volunteering at London 2012 as Birmingham 2022 recuits volunteers to join its 'Commonwealth Collective'.
Volunteering as part of the beach volleyball team at London 2012 was one of the greatest experiences I could have wished for!
My journey to 2012 started way back in 2009, initially signing up to volunteer to be a part of the National Technical Officer selection programme for line judges and scorers. Unfortunately, I could not complete the necessary training as the traveling to NVL matches to gain experience proved difficult being too young to drive at the time.
When volunteering for Games Maker roles opened, I was selected for a sport-specific role for the beach volleyball test event in 2011 as a member of the athlete services team. The role involved a wide range of activities: assisting the athletes whilst they were on the site, ensuring they had everything they needed on the training courts, the athletes and coaches were aware of timings on the warmup courts, player accreditation was passed to FIVB delegates and ensuring the athletes had everything they needed courtside during the Games.
The test event had many challenges, especially as the London riots started at the same time as the competition. The team came together and there was a great camaraderie between all the volunteers. During the competition there became a bit of a running joke that most of the teams I looked after courtside generally lost their matches. Luckily, the Brazilian pair I looked after in the final managed to secure the gold medal.
A year later at the Games I picked up the same role within the athlete services team at the Olympics. The role was even broader in the Games, as the training venue was moved into St James Park and the stadium was still being built days before the Games started.
The Games gave me many fantastic memories (too many to mention!), though a few sure do stand out. The South Africa coach, who’s only request while on site was to be kept up to date with the England vs South Africa Cricket test scores. Meeting the now Dutch King and Queen in the athletes’ lounge (and not having a clue who they were!) The “unofficial medal ceremony” held by the volunteers with the cardboard medals from the rehearsal medal ceremony and the bouquet left by the Brazilin Women’s pair.
But by far the best memory was being fortunate to be courtside assisting Kerry Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor as they won their 3rd consecutive gold medal. It was unbelievable to be sat that close to the action as they made history. It was also incredible that after the game Kerry thanked me for my help during the game, and had remembered my name after what could have only been a brief encounter a week and a half earlier whilst giving a tour of the venue.
I have my application to volunteer at Birmingham 2022 and hope to create many more memories at what I hope will be another incredible event!
Has Phil piqued your interest in volunteering at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games? Find out more about joining the ‘Commonwealth Collective’ and forging your own memories for life. In total, Birmingham 2022 is recruiting 13,000 volunteers, and you can apply for specific beach volleyball roles using the codes listed here. Be quick, applications are expected to close later this month!