Australia’s biggest event this decade came to Queensland April 2018. Everyone had a chance to get involved in a once in a lifetime opportunity through volunteering at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as they were in need of 15,000 volunteers.
The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games started on 4 April and went through until 15 April. The event was a sporting spectacle across multiple venues in the state; whilst it does say Gold Coast; events were also held in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns, ensuring that even if you don’t live at or near the Gold Coast, you can join in too.
Where did the Commonwealth Games Start? It all began in 1930 where Ontario, Canada hosted 11 nations in six sports with women only being allowed to take part in swimming. Since then, Australia has hosted four times, with the Gold Coast being our fifth event. At the Gold Coast Games we got see 70 nations under the Commonwealth Empire compete in 10 core sports and 15 optional or recognised sports by the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Another important aspect for the athletes is some sports like lawn bowls and netball are not recognised in the Olympics, so the Commonwealth Games is their only chance to compete for a gold medal.
So the venture started at the Commonwealth Games website to start our applications which were due by the end of March 2017. Some of the positions that you could apply for were operational support, officiating or recording at a sport/venue, press and media or hospitality to name a few. It is also important to know that you had be available to undertake training and be available either pre, during or post games to assist. I put myself down for the sport of Basketball, due to playing and coaching for quite a few years, with Kim put down Basketball first and Gymnastics second. Kim coached at YMCA and Kindy Gym at PCYC. Why would you just sit at home and watch it on TV? Why would you not get out and live it, breathe it, smell it and grow with it?
We love learning about different cultures and we had athletes, officials and visitors from 70 different countries here at the one time. You’d be crazy to miss it!
Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones in late April 2017 officially opened the first operational venue of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Burleigh Heads which hosted interviews of up to 25,000 volunteer applicants over the following four months.
Both successful and unsuccessful application notifications began to roll out from the 27 June 2017. We were both successful, and needed to go to the Volunteer Selection Centre (VSC), Burleigh Heads for a formal interview. Inside the VSC, applicants moved through an ‘excite and educate’ zone which features an overview of GC2018 Vision, Sports and Venues, the Gold Coast, the GC2018 Ambassadors and Local Indigenous Culture.
Games officials were overwhelmed with volunteer applications, with more than 47,000 submissions received from around the state, Australia and World. After going through the formal selection process at Burleigh Heads, up to 15,000 of volunteers would receive customised training, specific to individual roles and venues, delivered by TAFE Queensland.
By end of September we both were successful in being awarded roles of Festivals for Kim and Basketball for me.
In October the Games workforce (volunteers, staff and contractors), to be known as Games Shapers, joined forces for the first time with just 144 days until the Opening Ceremony. About 4500 members of the Games workforce packed the Convention Centre that housed the main media centre, basketball finals and netball at GC2018, for the first of three ‘full house’ sessions. The event also marked the six-year anniversary of the Gold Coast being announced as the host city of the 21st Commonwealth Games. The Games Shaper uniform, developed by Hard Yakka, was unveiled during the first session. Star of the show Borobi the Official GC2018 Mascot was also given his own bespoke polo shirt to match that of the workforce.
The entire Game’s workforce walked away with a real insight into the scale of the Games, what training to expect over the next five months, what we expect of us and an idea of what we could expect at Games time. Games Shapers make a massive commitment to the success of the Games and sincerely appreciate the time and energy they put in to ensure athletes, spectators, media and other key stakeholders have a memorable Games experience.
With only 70 days until the opening ceremony, we picked up our uniforms and were told “Games Shapers” would be among the first in the world to see the Opening Ceremony with each volunteer to be gifted exclusive invitations to two dress rehearsals of the event. So they could be prepared to kick off the biggest sporting event in Queensland’s history, GOLDOC will ran two dress rehearsal events at Carrara Stadium, on March 31 and April 2. While the main purpose of the dress rehearsals was to test the creative and operational elements of the show in front of a live audience, it was a great way to experience before the Games officially kick off.
Lead up training took place at TAFE Queensland’s Southport campus and was part of an effort to provide specialist training alongside Gold Coast 2018. More than 1.8 million pieces of paper have been saved by providing volunteer training online instead of printed workbooks for the orientation and role specific training. It is claimed that 360,000 training hours would have been given the volunteers prior to the Games. In total the 15,000 Games Shapers have over 200 exciting and varied roles during the Games.
Following the completion of role specific training, Games Shapers underwent venue specific training in both online and face to face environments leading up to the Games. Kim caught up with her Festival volunteers at Broadbeach Surf Club to find out her role, training and events participating in the Festival.
I underwent venue training at the Gold Coast Convention Centre and recognized some faces from my time at Auchenflower Basketball Courts. We were taken back stage to see the court and practice warm-up area with team locker rooms, showers and ice baths. We were then split into two groups; Support Services were shown the back of house areas. The Field of Play volunteers were shown areas of the court they were patrolling. There are so many things to remember on the Field of Play because being televised there were rules and regulations that Basketball Queensland had to follow.
One of the highlights pre – games was being able to view a dress rehearsal to the opening ceremony. Australia’s indigenous culture, beach lifestyle and famous music played starring roles. More than 4000 performers entertained volunteers and family, with indigenous culture, which dates back at least 65,000 years, a constant theme of the night amid a series of performances, dances and a didgeridoo orchestra. The conclusion of the Queen’s Baton relay, promoting diversity and inclusion, were key themes to the spectacular event. An iconic Kombi van and Migaloo the whale also featured. Christine Anu, Ricki-Lee Coulter and Delta Goodrem all sang but, with the exception of Anu, were outshone by a local group who provided orchestral interpretations of dozens of classic Aussie songs. Anu’s version of My Island Home, featuring contributions from Torres Strait rapper Mau Power, was perhaps the musical highlight. Coulter sang Technicolour Love on a traditional Gold Coast beach scene, while Goodrem helped draw the night to a close with a rendition of her new single Welcome to Earth. And despite the wishes of many in the crowd, John Farnham did not appear during a lengthy version of his classic You’re The Voice.
Games Experience to Follow