There’s one thing all great sporting events have in common.
It’s not the fierce sense of competition among top level athletes vying to be victorious, it’s the invaluable work which unpaid volunteers contribute to ensure the smooth sailing of sporting events.
Whether it be a Formula One race around the streets of Singapore or the US Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, volunteers – in a way – run the show.
Around 50 Members of Bendigo District Table Tennis Association and other volunteers from Australia and abroad have been helping with various elements of the ITTF World Junior Table Tennis Championships at the Bendigo Stadium.
“We are contributing to ensure this is a successful event, there is a lot of enjoyment for us volunteering at a tournament of this level,” BDTTA president Gary Warnest said.
Several BDTTA players have contacted Warnest during the tournament asking to lend a hand in anyway possible, a sign of how passionate they are about table tennis.
Volunteers were busily hard at work setting up the stadium before the athletes had even arrived.
A mammoth task which involved preparing numerous tables, positioning barriers and above all ensuring everything looked the best it possibly could before the tournament commenced.
And once the championships commenced their roles transitioned to helping with everyday operations of the tournament.
“We have members assisting with ticket access control and also escorting the general public and players around the stadium,” Warnest said.
They also have a strong presence behind the scenes helping with the digitisation of the scoring systems which are utilised for live streaming and to update ITTF rankings.
Their responsibility extends to operations at the racquet control testing area to ensure all equipment complies with tournament regulation.
The biggest highlight for the volunteers has been watching players from countries such as China, Japan and Russia compete.
“It’s been awesome watching the world’s best juniors in action,” volunteer Karen Cooke said.
“We have a great group of volunteers working here this week with enough of us to cover anything that needs to be done.”
Cooke’s fellow BDTTA member Graeme Hickingbotham also relished the opportunity to watch the world class players go head-to-head at the Stadium.
“I’m really impressed with the tournament and to be a part of it is a privilege,” Hickingbotham said.
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