By Emily Stratford:
The time has come that I write my final blog post.
63 countries, 982 athletes, 9 sporting disciplines, 6 days of competition… we did it!!!
On July 14th we began welcoming teams into beautiful Nassau. Over the course of 4 days Geordie, Luke, Matt, and I met with all of the countries to complete a hand over meeting. For this session the Team Leader from each country came to our main office in the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. This is when we handed over all athletes and team officials accreditation badges and any pre-ordered tickets. We then had them sign off on the sportive entries that we went over during our pre DRM via Skype to ensure there were no changes and it was the final listing. These meetings were a fairly smooth process as we had already gone through the bulk of the information in the pre DRM. However, it did get a little hectic when we had five countries arriving at once and there was only four of us.
During our final days of preparation before the Games began the Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC stopped by our office and we had the honour of having a conversation about the Commonwealth values and how us as interns will remember and appreciate this experience for the rest of our lives.
Once the handover meetings were complete, opening ceremonies day had finally come. Our task for this day
was splitting up into each of the hotels in the athletes village and loading teams onto the buses to get them
to the stadium on time. As the teams started to arrive at the stadium we then had to direct the flag bearer for each team to their respective flag and have them lined up in alphabetical order with their teams lined up in single file behind them. I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it was getting 982 athletes to line up single file. Many of the athletes were more interested in running around collecting pins from other countries as pin trading is all the rage at Games. To be honest we all jumped on the pin collecting train, it was too hard not to.
The opening ceremonies were a huge success. The athletes had a great time dancing and singing along with the local Bahamian artists and enjoyed the grand firework show that topped off the evening.
A great unexpected opportunity for us was getting invited to the Queens Baton Relay reception at Atlantis that was for all team’s presidents and secretary generals. This was a great opportunity to network and learn more about the Queen’s Baton journey. The Queen’s Baton Relay started at Buckingham Palace on March 13th 2017 and is currently on a 388-day journey through all nations and territories of the Commonwealth and will end off on the Gold Coast for the XXI Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremonies on April 4, 2018.
During the Games we were based out of our main office at the stadium so team leaders could drop in and ask us any questions. If we were lucky they would not only just drop in to ask questions but also to give us souvenirs from their country. Being based in the main stadium we were able to watch a lot of different events as the venues were all conveniently close together. Occasionally we would stop by the athletes village to ensure water and ice was constantly available for all athletes and team leaders and everything else was in check. One day we ran into our fellow Canadian friends and they snapped a nice group photo of us (the dream team).
Throughout day 3, 4, & 5 of the Games, interactive Athlete Impact Labs were offered throughout the day for
athletes and officials. The labs allowed athletes to discuss, debate, and learn about the values of the Commonwealth. During the session I sat in on the Athlete Impact Lab leaders spoke about how young
athletes can play a vital role when it comes to sport making a contribution to global development. The most interesting activity during the session was when the athletes had the opportunity to either agree or disagree when speaking about young athletes rights and responsibilities in sport. It was great to hear all the young athletes different opinions and the reasoning behind them.
Finally the day had come, July 23rd… closing ceremonies!
Once again we split up into each of the hotels to load the teams onto buses to bring them to the stadium. The closing ceremonies were a little more casual and did not require teams to line up in single file (phew). The athletes and team officials did a lap around the track with the flag bearers leading the pack and then grouped in the middle for the ceremony. The video below played on the big screens was a great tribute to everyone that helped make these Games a success.
The president of the Commonwealth Games Federation declared the 6th Commonwealth Youth Games officially closed and it was in that moment that I felt most proud of all the hard work I’ve done. I am so thankful for every single experience I had over the past three months and for the friendships I made. I have
learned so much about the sport industry and what it takes to run a successful event. I am excited to go back to Brock University to finish my Sport Management degree and take what I’ve learned over the past three months and apply it in the classroom. I hope once I graduate I have the opportunity to continue working at Games and re-connect with the people I’ve met during this experience.
It’s time for me to head back to Canada to enjoy one month of Canadian summer and share my experiences with my friends and family.
Bahamas, you will be missed!