INSIDE THE CANADA GAMES – A VOLUNTEER’S PERSPECTIVE

The Canada Games, the largest sporting event in the history of Halifax is upon us.  We’re very proud to be part of this historic moment in our community.  We’re especially proud of the contribution that Ruth Blades, a member of our team, has made over the past 18  months.

Ruth recognized that this is “one of those events that come around once in a lifetime” and she wanted to be part of it.   As a project manager in her professional life, she knew she had skills that could contribute to the success of the Games. Many months ago, she submitted her name and was asked to take on the co-project manager’s role with the Sport Division of the Games.  I asked Ruth a few questions about her involvement and experience and here’s what she shared with me:

Q: What was involved in your role as Co-Project Manager of the Sport Division?
A: We developed the project plan, including project charters, work breakdown structures, risk assessments, issues tracking, reporting mechanisms and status reporting for the Project Management Office.  That meant that we worked with the 21 Sport Organizing Committees, the Sport Management Group and other divisions to ensure that the field of play was set for all the participating sports.  That includes all manner of things to make certain the events run smoothly such as: having equipment in the right place at the right time; officials in place and trained; competition and practice schedules developed down to the last detail; and a results system that is operational.  In other words, our job was to make sure the Committees that were responsible for the execution of these activities knew what they had to do when and we kept them on track by checking in through regular status meetings.

Q: How much time have you committed to the Games?
A: So far I have spent about 250 hours over 18 months and I’m scheduled to work another 80 hours or so over the next two weeks. As we moved from planning into execution, I was asked to take on the role of Sport Division representative on the Arrival and Departures team. This group has developed plans and processes to ensure the athletes and their baggage arrive at the appropriate destinations. During the Games I will also be working as a Major Officials Information Desk Host, providing assistance to Major Officials and Technical Representatives.

Q: In total, you will have spent the equivalent of almost two working months on this volunteer effort.  What have you learned?
A: I learned a lot about sport, especially the complexity of hosting 23 national championships at the same time. I also had a unique opportunity to learn about working within a large, complex and very public project that involves many stakeholders and participants. At Halifax Global, our projects tend to be much smaller in scale and are generally of interest only to our clients, their immediate stakeholders and us.  The Canada Games are very public and the impact is huge.

Q: What is the single most important learning you will take away from this experience, the Games aside?
A:  Well, I have absolutely enjoyed working with my colleagues on this project.  It exposed me to a whole new group of people and a subject area I didn’t know much about.  Probably the biggest learning for me is how important it is to communicate clearly and concisely in complex environments.  We always talk about the importance of communication but to see it actually work in a project of this size and complexity was a valuable lesson for me.

Q:  Why do you think the Games are important for Nova Scotia?
A:  There are many reasons why the Games are important to us as Nova Scotians.  They promote sport and a healthy life style, they allow the Province to demonstrate leadership in the delivery of sporting events, they will bring in additional revenue to the Province but I think the single biggest impact will be from the residual effects they leave behind.  They will leave a fabulous legacy including the Canada Games Centre, significantly improved infrastructure at sport facilities, the training of major and minor officials, and sport equipment which will be used to train emerging and future athletes.

Q:  What will you take away personally from your involvement with the Games?
A:  The personal satisfaction of knowing that I helped, in a small way, to bring about these wonderful games. This is a big accomplishment for Halifax and I am proud to be one of the thousands of volunteers that made it happen.
All of us at Halifax Global are proud of Ruth and her contribution to the Games and we look forward to cheering on our athletes over the next couple of weeks.  Well done, Ruth!

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