SEA Games: Volunteers with Singapore magic

SEA Games: Volunteers with Singapore magic
A BIG THANK YOU: Sport Singapore organised a Volunteer Appreciation Night at Universal Studios to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of the SEA Games volunteers, and over 5,000 of them turned up to soak in the festivities

By all accounts, the benchmark for hosting a successful multi-sport event would be the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Recognised as the best Games in the history of the Olympics, it received universal acclaim, with the thousands of volunteers and Sydneysiders lauded, in particular, by visitors and international media, who couldn't get enough of the warmth, hospitality and feel-good factor they raised during the event.

Singapore will show off 17,000 volunteers when the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games are held here from June 5 to 16.

While he appreciates the magic stirred by the volunteer corps at the 2000 Olympics, Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin (far right) said last night that the team for the SEA Games will display their own unique style to light up the event.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Volunteer Appreciation Night organised by Sport Singapore at Universal Studios, Lim told The New Paper: "I don't think the volunteers in Singapore need to be encouraged by comparing them to Sydney or to Glasgow (host of the 2014 Commonwealth Games).

"Singaporeans have their own flavour and our volunteers have demonstrated that since they stepped forward.

"In all the team-building sessions they have shown energy, passion and that they're ready to be great hosts.

"Our job is not only to facilitate them to be great hosts, but also to energise them for the long term."

Organised to acknowledge their commitment and dedication, over 5,000 volunteers attended the event at Sentosa's Waterworld yesterday.

TRIBUTE

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, the guest-of-honour, paid tribute to the volunteers in his speech, saying: "I'm very encouraged by the overwhelming response of Singaporeans across all walks of life to volunteer at the SEA Games.

"Volunteers give their time and expertise to a range of critical tasks, so that athletes can focus on their events, and spectators can have a good experience.

"I hope this spirit of sports volunteerism will energise and inspire more Singaporeans to step forward and volunteer in other areas, too."

Volunteer recruitment began soon after the official launch of the SEA Games in February last year and they have attended training sessions and workshops for their respective assignments.

The 17,000 volunteers, under the brand "Team Nila" - Nila is the mascot of the Games - will now undergo a series of detailed assignments for their roles in June, which will range across several fields, including venue operations, ushers and information technology and logistics.

As volunteers, they will receive only meal allowances and an EZLink card, the value of which is still to be finalised.

Said Lim: "We have stopped actively recruiting volunteers because we've reached our limit.

"The sports volunteer movement is something we will frame for (Vision) 2030. These Games give us a catalyst, but we're looking beyond it."

Lim also drove home the message that Singaporeans need to get behind their athletes and embody the spirit demonstrated by the volunteers.

Tickets for certain events at the Games are already on sale and the early demand, Lim added, has been encouraging.

"Singaporeans are interested in the SEA Games and, through the media, we want them to know what's at stake," said the former national water polo captain, who won multiple SEA Games gold medals in the '80s and '90s.

"When our football team play, we want them to know the challenges, who the main opponents are, and what they can expect.

"Likewise for our badminton, swimming and table tennis teams. Our 4x100 (men's) swim team narrowly lost the gold two years ago (in Myanmar) and they want to come out and make history.

"Our whole Team Singapore will make history, if we get behind them."

aakasim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 25, 2015.
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