With the Commonwealth Games mired in one controversy after another over the past few weeks, the relatives and friends of the would-be volunteers, asked them why they still wanted to be a part of an event that had become so infamous.
For the volunteers, though, the chance to be part of such a huge sporting event is all that matters.
“The efficient functioning of the Games at the ground level is our responsibility. No one will find us lacking,” said I.P. Chopra, 75, the oldest volunteer. “Everything else is immaterial.”
With less than two months to go, the Organizing Committee (OC) has decided to reduce the number of volunteers. So, instead of 30,000, the official estimate quoted all along for volunteer numbers, the figure has been cut to 22,000.
“An audit of role-specific requirements revealed that 22,000 would suffice,” said Uma Badve, director, Volunteer Programme, OC.
To reach the magic figure they have got all kinds of volunteers: husband-wife duos, corporate honchos, housewives, retired officials, students, professionals etc. ‘Delhi United’ is what the volunteer programme is called.
“In many ways, these volunteers are the face of the Games as it is they the spectators, tourists and delegates will interact with and not the organizing officials,” she said.
Amity University, the official partner for training, is training around 250-400 volunteers six days a week.
The guiding principle of the training is customer satisfaction.
“Special focus has been on foreigners and non-Hindi and non-English speaking public,” said Shantanu Basu, a trainer. “We also have a group of Australian volunteers who are experienced in such sporting events,” he said.
The volunteers will get certificates, merchandise and access to the Games’ backroom operations, but not money. The trainers say it is the chance to be an insider in such a huge event that is keeping people motivated.