Volunteering for a big sporting event or for a club makes you a valuable person as much as the champions who shoot for gold. I have been volunteering for sports events with the aim of doing a great service for the athletes and making a great contribution to a society that promotes sport and the wellbeing of the community. I had been a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year and I had the honour and the privilege of working for a once in a lifetime event for free. I was happy to be on the team of volunteers for the games. These volunteers were called the Clyde-Siders and we were the work force of the ‘friendliest games’ ever in history. The only drawback to Glasgow 2014 for me was no archery. At the moment archery currently exists as an optional sport in the games where the host city can choose to include it in their games. At the moment there is a petition to make archery a core sport in the games so that it can be guaranteed to appear permanently at the Commonwealth Games in the long term so that every host city will have to host it. Until then I decided to take an opportunity to volunteer for an archery event elsewhere. The chance came when my club West Essex Bowmen hosted their annual Double 70m FITA/50m world record shoot in aid of raising money for the Essex Air Ambulance service.
When you go to watch a sporting event in the stands you wonder how much hard work goes into the set-up of the range. I had to work hard getting the targets set up en masse ready for the big game. This included a gazebo for the food stall and the club staff, which took half the club members to erect which required the same kind of effort you’d expect from a team of stagehands. As I had responsibility for my own target in the past when shooting for practice I came to realise that I had a lot more to do to make the targets elaborate enough for big game. This involved aligning the frames up along the shooting line, putting the bosses in place, fixing the flags on top of the frames in a coloured pattern and putting the paper target faces in place. These target faces had to be perfectly placed in accordance with World Archery’s regulation so that we could accurately measure the scores for World Record status. It was way out of my experience base, but I took to it like a fast learner.
Getting involved in volunteering brings you a lot closer to the champions of the games. With archery you get to run the show as if you were sharing the stage with the archers too. I remember that exact same feeling at the Commonwealth Games where I marshalled the field of play area for the athletes. As an archer myself I could see the West Essex Bowmen competition was no different from an ordinary club shoot competition shoot. Here however the club archers were shooting alongside championship archers at international level. In archery we shoot in competitions that are set by the rules of World Archery or Archery GB, where the rules apply for all archers of any experience or ability with different degrees of talent. This same criteria applies to any sport so even if it’s a club competition or a big sporting event then you can volunteer for any game that has a grand impact on the sporting world and you can shine like a champion yourself. I take great pride in volunteering for my community, club and fellow athletes. The best thing about it is that it boosts your wellbeing and happiness. It allows you to realise your importance even though you do it out of passion rather than recognition. It can also lead you to taking up a new found passion for sport and take up a new sport. When I was at Glasgow I had no interest in triathlon, but when I went along with it I got into a habit of trying it out myself. I learnt to ride a bike, which I hadn’t done since I was a kid. I’ve also got a bucket list of other sports that I want to try out as well.
With every sporting event we go to see we discover a new champion who becomes a household name. I had never heard of any famous sporting archers until I watched the London 2012 Olympics. Now I know a few big names out there who are worth watching alongside all the others in different sports. We had quite a few big names at the Air Ambulance shoot who were from the Archery GB para-squad. Among them were Simon Powell, David Phillips, Hazel Chaisty and Paul Browne. There was also Nicky Hunt from Team GB’s able bodied archery squad. Like any committed volunteer at a sporting event I watched over them and kept a look out for them and I even took an opportunity to watch them shoot, take pictures and talk to them. I told them how good it felt to work as a volunteer at an archery event for the first time and how well they were doing because of the volunteers here as well. It was a beautiful day, the weather was clear but there was quite a breeze blowing. But the real change in the wind came with the powerful skill and display of strength and mental abilities from these all archers who came out to play today.
If anyone would like to feel this same experience then I would suggest you sign up and volunteer for an archery game today. Whether it’s for a local club or a big sporting event your time on the shooting line without a bow is just as valuable as you are an archer. Even though archery is a somewhat niche sport in general I believe it is an important and valuable sport for all. With volunteering you can really appreciate the value of archery and accept that we should embrace all classes of sports and citizens.
The petition for the inclusion of archery as a core sport in the Commonwealth Games can be found at https://www.change.org/p/hrh-prince-imran-include-archery-as-a-core-sport-in-the-commonwealth-games