By Matt Spina:
Hello again everyone!
What a crazy, crazy month. I really can’t believe 30 days have passed since my last post. Shortly after our “Canada Day” celebration, the hours became longer and longer until we reached a point where we were spending less time at home per day than the office.
This was to be expected though, as many different items were coming to a close and were in need of our immediate attention. In other words… it was crunch time. Emily and I worked on opposite teams in terms of countries, which essentially meant that we both faced similar, but also very different challenges leading up to games time. Often we found ourselves working together on items that were universal (such as printing accreditations, cross referencing them with final delegation lists, etc.) which gave us the rare opportunity of working together on the same tasks. Other than that, our days leading up to the games were filled with an increasing number of tasks and responsibilities.
When we last left off, I had been neck-deep in the ticketing pre-ordering system and preparing for the Delegation Registration Meetings (DRMs). I’ll begin with the ticketing portion.
Following the sending out of our ticket ordering template to each Commonwealth Games Association (CGA), based on the pricing matrix provided by the local organizing committee, responses were received before the deadline (thankfully) with their various order forms filled out.
My next step was to pull together each order form onto a single file and prepare a break down of each order by country. I then worked with the ticketing office to ensure each order was printed and counted to ensure accuracy prior to the arrival of countries and their respective DRMs. Upon completion of the printing of each order I arranged invoices for each country to be paid at their handover meeting.
Delegation Registration Meetings:
Due to the overwhelming amount of work we had on our plates, we opted to complete most of the DRM over the phone prior to their arrival. This meeting held the same format as the Pre-DRMs essentially confirming the following information:
- Final delegation list (athletes, officials, presidents, secretary generals, etc.)
- Confirmation of extra team officials and any associated costs/payment
- Sportive entries (including each event that each athlete would compete in)
- Hotel and room allocation
- Follow-up on any outstanding items since the pre-DRM (visa applications, athlete replacements, etc.)
These are just a few of the larger items that we covered in the calls. Once these calls had been completed we prepared to have our “handover” meeting, which would consist of giving accreditation badges, tickets, processing any payments and providing the welcome information packages to each team leader.
This required a lot of preparation for all four of us as we needed to work together to ensure the accreditation badges matched the delegation size, and that no one was missing. Many reprints were required, but after implementing a system between each of us we were able to verify each delegation while cross-referencing them with the system numbers to ensure no additional badges were printed (for security reasons).
To sum up the handover meetings, we had a sign-off sheet that confirmed each section of information covered in the DRM phone call. Both the team leader and whoever was running that particular meeting would sign off on each area before completing the handover and sending the team leader on their way.
Thanks to the majority of the items being addressed in the call prior to these meetings, they were relatively quick, with some of the larger countries only taking 15-20 minutes.
During the Games:
Once the last days before the games began rolled around the hours grew longer and weekends became a thing of the past. 12+ hour work days became the “norm” and the work only increased. After the handover meetings concluded, it was mainly maintenance and any “big-ticket” emergency issues that became our main focus. Between the four of us and our supervisor we were covering the hours of 7am-10pm each day all throughout the games. Fortunately, once things smoothed out after the initial few days we were able to take turns in the office throughout the day so that we would have the opportunity to spectate some sports. My favorite was when we caught the track finals for 400m/800m/3000m and had the privilege of watching from the VIP section while snacking on some delicious local cuisine provided to staff earlier that day.
One thing that was surreal for me was seeing each of the athletes that I had processed on the registration system in person. It gave me a sense of validation when I saw them compete after all the work that went into getting them here.
Another handful of interesting experiences that happened during the games were the following:
- Greeting the first team (India) to arrive in Bahamas
This was an exciting experience as the games were now an immediate reality, and the first of the approximate 1000 athletes attending had landed on Bahamian soil.
- Meeting the Canada Commonwealth Games Association President Rick Powers
- Attending the Queens Baton Relay reception and having the opportunity to hold and get a picture with the Baton
The Queens Baton is currently travelling on a 388-day journey across the Commonwealth in preparation for the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia this upcoming April. Each Commonwealth country has been engraved onto the side of the Baton… you can’t quite see it, but I swear its there!
- Attending my first ever Opening and Closing ceremonies to a Games event
These games offered a lot of firsts for me to experience, and I can honestly say that I have learned so much in the three months we have been involved. The opening ceremonies albeit smaller than other Games ceremonies were still a sight to behold. Colours, costumes, presentations, dancing, flags, delegations, and a true representation of Bahamian Culture with one of the local Junkanoo groups concluding the ceremony under the light of fireworks spread across the sky. It was pretty amazing!
(Challenge… find me in the Junkanoo photo!)
Following the closing ceremony, we had our last teams depart the Bahamas a couple of days later approximately the same time that we wrapped up at the office. We were each asked to do a short report on different sections of the work that we each had a hand in. This would be included into what will be called the “Bahamas Report” summing up each of the relevant areas of the games for future reference.
Once this was completed, we all got together to go snorkeling at Clifton Heritage Park. This was our fourth attempt to go there for snorkeling since our arrival at the beginning of May. The stars aligned, because we got in!
I finally got to check out all of the amazing underwater sculptures that I had heard so much about…. I even made a new friend!
Well, that about wraps up this summer of work. I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone by.. I can still recall our first night here as clear as day. It has been an absolutely amazing experience full of new learning, application of course content, new relationships, and friendships that will last a lifetime… (assuming I learn how to keep the volume down when watching movies, right Emily?)
Joking aside, when the Games were officially declared closed I immediately felt goosebumps and a sense of satisfaction mixed with a bit of sadness. I would compare it to the day after New Years when Christmas break is officially over and you have to go back to school. “Post-Games Blues” I’ve heard it called – and it sure is!
Now, I will be enjoying my time off and working on my report until the 8th when my parents will be arriving to spend a week in paradise before I leave to head home!
I’m thankful for everyone who has been a part of this experience from day one. Geordie, Luke, Mike, Romell, Tasha, Drumeco, Cora, Simone, Rachel, Ellen, Andy, Richard, Ann-Louise, David and of course a huge thank you to Emily for putting up with me for three months! If I’ve missed anyone, know that you have my thanks and I genuinely look forward to working again with all of you again in the future!
Over and out,