Local Spotlight: Blaenau Gwent


The Sainsbury's School Games is arguably one of the largest events of its kind in the world and it, without doubt, provides much inspiration for thousands of young people in Britain.


 This year I have been fortunate enough to attend the annual 2013 games in Sheffield as a Residential Volunteer alongside other Young Ambassadors from all over the UK. We all shared a unique role across the 5 days of competition with some people giving VIP tours and some sweeping volleyball Courts.


 On our first day at the Sainsbury's games, the other Young Ambassadors and I attend the Athletes Village for our first shift of volunteering. During the day we got to meet and greet loads of inspirational athlete mentors as they would be there to offer support to the other athletes during the games. We then welcomed the Athletes from Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and even Brazil. Our main role was to get the different countries together playing games and interacting with each other. We managed to set up a game of international Jenga were we had athletes from each country participating in the games having fun and doing something different. Trying to communicate with the Brazilian athletes proved a tough yet great fun learning experience as we used translation software to have a conversation with them in order to give them the best experience.Luke Rees 1


At the end of the day we went to our last shift, which was welcoming the spectators into the Motorpoint arena and handing out programs for the opening ceremony. After the doors closed we took our seats to watch a magnificent Opening Ceremony hosted by five Young Ambassadors with a crowd of over 5,000 people.


 As part of my shift I was asked to carry the team placard out where only then I found out Wales were playing. It was a great honour to lead my home team out in the games carrying out team flag with pride. As If by luck Wales then went on to win their first match of the games 2 v 1 in sets against Northern Ireland.


After a long shift at the Volleyball on Saturday we headed back to the hotel to prepare for the Volunteer Celebration evening which was held at the Sheffield Art museum. The evening was held in a stunning rain forest like green house. It was a perfect evening of celebration as there was everything from live musicians to young magicians. The evening was a great chance for us to share all of our favorite memories of the games and to highlight the best parts. The evening came to a close as we went back to the hotel and shared our last night of the games with all of the young ambassadors.

 Luke Rees 2

The Closing ceremony had arrived, and I couldn't wait. Not for the games to be over, but for what I was about to achieve. I was given the opportunity to say the 'Vote of Thanks' speech on behalf of the volunteers in front of a packed 5,000+ crowd at the Motorpoint Arena. I being a huge fan of public speaking couldn't wait to get up on the stage. As I got up on the stage it was a huge honour to deliver the speech on behalf of over 400 volunteers. This was by far the best way to end my first Sainsbury's School Games experience and what a life memory it was.


The whole Sainsbury's 2013 School Games experience is something that is going to stay with me for a lifetime, from being able to meet many talented athletes, to meeting many inspirational gold medalists. Being able to say I have spoken in front of thousands of spectators and athletes is something that I will treasure forever.


I can't thank anyone enough for being able to give me the memories I have received over the course of games. Opportunities like these are vital to Young Ambassadors as they don't only provide an amazing experience, but they teach team bonding, team work and responsibilities. When volunteer chances come around you need to take them with both hands and give it your all when applying for them, whether it's a small or large role. At the end of the day you need to be in it to win it and you may win some you may lose some. If you get chosen you take your opportunity and prove what your cable of, but if you are unsuccessful then you move on and apply for the next one. But whatever happens, you continue to volunteer and to inspire young people to participate in sport, because it's the Volunteers commitment, which will make the difference. The facilities are a means to an end; it's the young people and our commitment which will make the difference to the people participating in sport.Luke Rees 3


I would strongly suggest to anyone who is a sports enthusiast to get involved in the Young Leader program within their school, because without the learning from student coaches on that course, I wouldn't have been able to achieve what I have accomplished. You don't have to get involved in volunteering to this scale but everyone has to start somewhere. Through this course it has lead me to be a Young Ambassador and has developed me to have a passion for coaching and seeing young children achieve the full potential.


Luke Rees

Gold Ambassador, Blaenau Gwent