Day one: On the 24th of August our trip began with a photo shoot on the mound for Edinburgh’s press. This took place in front of the enormous Paralympic Agitos and having a group photo taken, adorned with British and Scottish flags, seemed to be a fitting start to our journey. We then made our way to the train station for our five-hour trip down to London. Over the course of those next five hours, everyone really began to properly bond as a team and it started to sink in that our journey had begun. Finally we arrived at our accommodation at Queen Mary University and settled into our home for the next sixteen days
Day two: On the second day we got straight into the Games Maker programme with an eight o’clock rise and travel to Excel for venue specific orientation and some practice matches to allow other teams to fine tune their roles. At the orientation we first attended an induction presentation where we were given all the necessary information for being a Games Maker in general, and told a bit more about what was expected from us while working in this prestigious role. The orientation culminated in a tour of Excel where we were taken into a few of the different sporting arenas to give us an impression of the venue before being shown around the Sitting Volleyball section in more detail. The scale of the arena compared to the size of the Sitting Volleyball court baffled all of us and it really hit home how popular sitting volleyball is and the pressure that would be on us once the crowds were in to deliver an outstanding service to the athletes and officials
After this we had our first practice as courtside assistants on the Paralympic court. GB Women had practice matches against Japan and Ukraine, and it was the real deal but without the crowd! This allowed us to perfect our quick and fast mopping as well as our ball retrieving roles before rushing to ‘UDAC’ for uniform collection
At the enormous distribution warehouse known as ‘UDAC’ (uniform distribution and accreditation centre) we registered then were quickly ushered into one of the slickest and most impressive distribution procedures any of us had ever experienced, starting with a photo being taken and our details being confirmed. After the photo we were told to follow a yellow line painted on the floor and as soon as we turned the corner, no more than twenty seconds after having the photo taken, our passes were ready, laminated and our names were being called to collect them. After getting our passes we then went through to a second hall where we took a ticket from a numbering machine and waited to be called. Although some jokes were made at the time about it feeling like being children again, waiting to be fitted for school shoes, this was nowhere near the feeling of childish excitement we got at the end when, after all the fitting of uniform, we were given a massive bag stuffed to the brim with Adidas shoes, tops, socks, trousers and every other imaginable uniform item! To top it off, at the checkout we were given a receipt for all the items with a total cost of £0.00….it was like Christmas again!
Calum Connelly, Edinburgh Young Games Maker
Courtside Assistant, Sitting Volleyball
Thursday 30th August saw us all on court for the first time properly. This was it, this was the real thing. It is what all of our training and preparation had been building towards, that first Sitting Volleyball match at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. It had been a long journey to this point but everyone was raring to go, all of our hard work was finally about to pay off. Waiting in the tunnel at the side of the court with the rest of my team I could see the seats filling up, the noise and colour building as we waited. On the big screens I could see a video being played with many well-known athletes and celebrities talking about the significance of the Games and how proud they were to have them in their home country. It was at this point more than any other that it hit me how lucky I was to be an active part of it all. It was surreal to think that we weren’t going to be watching it on the television or even from the stands, we were going to be courtside right in the middle of the action. I couldn’t wait to get out there….
We were announced onto court and walked out to David Guetta’s ‘Sweat’, just like we had practised so many times before. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I walked, I tried furiously to pretend to the crowd that I do this sort of thing every day, that it was just another day at the office. ‘Professional but pleased to be here’ was the look I was after. I think the huge grin on my face may have called my bluff on that one though. But that’s the point of all of this, right? It’s not something that we do every day; it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of something amazing, something unforgettable. In the matches that have followed from the first it has not got any less surreal or any less amazing. Each day brings new challenges and experiences and I speak on behalf of all of the Edinburgh Young Games Makers when I say that we are all having the time of our lives!
Daniel Shields, Edinburgh Young Gamesmaker
Courtside Assistant, Sitting Volleyball
And here is the email sent to our Active Schools Team:
What a buzz..… yesterday we were court side for the GB Women v Japan – unfortunately GB lost, but the team were so nice to the kids afterwards. A couple of us gave Edinburgh rock to the captain Claire Harvey whose right leg is paralysed and vision affected following a cycling accident and Martine Wright who is the lady who lost her legs in the London bombing – what amazing, inspirational, happy people 🙂
We also learned that our team of Young Games Makers have been assessed throughout our journey from application, interview, training and courtside during the games, and received the fantastic news that out of the four YGM groups, we scored the highest and have been awarded the prestigious role of courtside assistants for the Men’s Gold Medal match on Saturday at 6pm! The YGM’s are thoroughly ecstatic and all four leaders are bursting with pride for them and their well deserved reward
And if that was not enough excitement for one weekend, the whole team were exceptionally honoured to receive invitations from The Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh inviting them to the ceremony to bestow The Freedom of the City of Edinburgh on Sir Chris Hoy!!!
Another great achievement for us is that Hannah Lawrie has been appointed as the assistant for the men’s sitting final game!
Can’t put into words just how proud we are of these young people 🙂 They have been a delight to work with and are an absolute credit to themselves, their school and to their country as the only team of Young Games Makers from Scotland
Thanks for reading
Heather, Bev, Fiona & Tommy