Farewell Rio Olympics and hello #IAmTeamGB

With the Olympics now complete and the countdown to the Paralympics well underway, Emma Boggis turns her attention to volunteers and their vital role to help and support every participant's journey in sport and recreation.

So, just like that, the Olympic Games in Rio have come to an end. Nineteen days of intense, exciting, nerve-shredding and utterly captivating sporting action was celebrated and brought to a close at the Maracana stadium. 

I for one have been intently following the action from Brazil, whether it be early morning updates or late night viewing, and I know I am not alone. Nine million of us tuned in to watch the GB Women win hockey gold and I am sure it is a game that will remain with us for quite some time to come! 

The great thing about British sporting success like we have seen in Rio is not just the impact it has on the athletes themselves but the effect they’ve had on our country. The latest action and the latest medal winners have been the topic of many a conversation over the last few weeks whether in person or on social media and there has been a definite feel good factor imported to the UK from across the Atlantic.

To capitalise on this, on Saturday, the nation is going play host to its biggest ever sports day under the banner of #IAmTeamGB. Sports clubs and groups have been encouraged to create events and engage with their local communities to encourage them to take part and get active. ITV will even be switching off all channels on its network for an hour at 9:30am on the 27 August in a bid to get families off the sofa and into sport.

Building on the success of Team GB is really important so some of the team will be attending events  up and down the country to provide that added stardust that will hopefully help inspire a new generation to get in to sport and remain physically active.

The team behind the team

Of course while the Olympians may make the headlines, there is always a group of dedicated support staff and volunteers behind these events that ensure they run smoothly. In fact, it was noticeable during the Olympic Games just how frequently Team GB’s medal winners referenced and name-checked their coaches and support staff and how vital they are in contributing to their success.

See Laura Trott's thank you speech after winning her second gold. 

So while we rightly celebrate our Olympic champions, we also need to appreciate and champion the volunteers and coaches who help shape aspiring participants into achieving athletes and give the rest of us less talented the opportunity to take part in sport for fun. 

Join In, a legacy programme from London 2012 dedicated to local sports volunteering, is playing an active role in the #IamTeamGB sports day. Using its network of local clubs, it is helping match people to events and activities close to their homes. There is no doubt that the nation's biggest sports day will be largely delivered and supported by many volunteers making sure people have fun and enjoy sport in a safe and organised environment.

Without volunteers sport and recreation at a grassroots level would struggle to operate and those children and young people making their first tentative steps in to sport could be lost. There is clear value related to each and every volunteer in sport. Join In put a ‘wellbeing value’ of £16,000 associated to volunteers and those they help get active. So it is vital that opportunities are still created for volunteers to contribute to sporting success.

At the Alliance we recognise the importance of volunteers and the role they play in the success and development of our members. Last year we made a pledge to promote youth social action via the Step Up to Serve #Iwill campaign and will continue to work with our members and partners to ensure the value of volunteering is instilled across the sector. We’ve also celebrated the work of local clubs like Modernian Swimming Club as winners of our Community Sport and Recreation Award for Youth Volunteering.

Throughout the summer we’ve been promoting our #TryYourKitOn campaign, engaging with the public to get active during this summer of sport and signposting them to activities supplied by our members. Getting involved in initiatives like #TryYourKitOn or organised events such as #IamTeamGB provides the perfect opportunity to get involved in your local club and get active.

The Government’s Sporting Future strategy recognises volunteering as a form of engaging in sport and has tasked Sport England with creating a strategy to better understand the value of volunteers, what they put in to sport and how to engage and encourage volunteers from a wider range of backgrounds to get involved. Here at the Alliance we have already done some work to identify how we can support the new strategy, which is expected this autumn, and continue the legacy from London 2012 that Join In started and we look forward to sharing more information about this in the coming months.

Meanwhile the celebration of Team GB at the Olympic Games may be taking place this Saturday, but of course the success isn't over as the Paralympics start in Rio on 7 September. ParalympicsGB are taking their largest overseas team to date and, having been set an ambitious target to be more successful in Rio than they were in London by winning 121 medals, we look forward to the party continuing!

Take part in #IAmTeamGB

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