Today I attended the next training session on the way to being a volunteer. Since my last blog, I have been given my shifts - all 7 of them! In terms of lost earnings I must be mad to do it - and eating bread and jam until Christmas! I asked to be dropped from 1 shift as I have a ticket for South Africa v Samoa - which happily I was allowed to do. Big thumbs up to the organisers.
Today's training was called Talking Tactics, and was held at Aston University, so again I got on the roadworks that is called the A38 and went into Birmingham. There are 4 main routes north out of Birmingham, A38, A47, M6 and A5127. Roadworks on all of them. Great planning! Worst journey home this week has been 2 hours 10 minutes due to a car, more than likely German made, jumping in front to get one car ahead. (Is that racist to hate German cars? or rather their moronic drivers who think they own the road, speed limits or signs do not apply to them?)
I was needlessly early, so sat down with a drink, and a guy sat next to me to chat. A Saints fan. I jokingly booed. He pompously said 'Rugby Fans' don't boo. I asked why did England Fans boo Chris Ashton then? and Owen Farrell? and in fact most Saracens players. Sportsmanship is not alive in rugby as people like to think.... hence the need for rugby to set 5 core values....Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline, Sportsmanship for us to follow to support the ethics of the game.
One thing I do enjoy is fascinating facts (my sister calls me Rainman), and we were regaled with these throughout the day. World Rugby expect that 4 billion people will watch the event on TV, with over 2 million tickets sold, 400,000 plus international visitors (not sure whether a trip over the Severn Bridge counts), its the third biggest sporting event in the world.
The day had a corporate feel to it. 221 of us went through 'Death by Powerpoint', as we were given the Vision of the volunteers, the goals of the Volunteer Programme and then the Roles and Responsibilities which was when we got the PEP talk. By PEP I mean Personal Engaging Proactive, which we had to tell a story via a playing card we were asked to choose at the start of the day when we reported in to articulate the Personal side of it all.
There was more psycho-babble to follow. 'Could we relate where we had recently had good service,' 'what were our natural strengths'?And then learning about proactive v reactive listening, where we had to listen to the story of Goldilocks and answer questions afterwards. I was middling in my result. How do I know that there were only 3 bears, there's plenty in the woods...., after all I know the song about Yogi and his many friends. Apparently we should look for non-verbal clues as they represent 55% of a communication. (Maybe my friends were the problem why I nodded off in random places, I was bored......or just damn tired from my young heart running free).
I did enjoy the conversation about what was the most important about the Rugby World Cup. Without doubt in the room the two most important were numbers 5 and 8, that the Spectators have an amazing experience, and that it improves the global reputation of the game, so others can see why we enjoy it so much, in whatever form it takes - TAG, Touch, 7s or the full game. Interestingly the room was very similar, and a touch pragmatic about the least important to a successful World Cup. The consensus was that the economic benefits and the fact that matches may not be exciting. It's hard to remember an exciting World Cup Final in any ball sport- probably the last truly exciting Rugby final was 2003, as there were tries in that game!! Sport is not just about entertainment, drama and winning are equally important. If you want entertainment, go to Glastonbury (but not when Kanye West or The Who are on), human stories (Drama) and winning within the rules are the memorable things. No one remembers entertaining losers, the cup has the only winners' names on there.
As in all true Conference tradition, lunch was sandwiches, crisps, tortilla chips and fruit to eat, and fruit juice or water to drink. I've still not mastered the art of taking a sandwich off a plate, whilst holding fruit juice standing up, so I sat down. A young woman sat on the floor next to me and I mentioned this to her. Faux Pas 2 of the day, as she was an emotive vegetarian, and maybe a confused one too. The sandwiches were laid out Pastrami and cheese, chicken mayo, salmon, and final two cheese (the vegetarian option). The queue went that way too. She moaned to me that meat eaters were eating the first plate (pastrami) and that was the vegetarian option. (I daren't tell her that Pastrami is meat....) The meat eaters wouldn't leave much for the starving vegetarians to eat. (I feel an appeal coming on - 'feed the world, don't they know its pastrami time.'). Don't worry about her, she didn't wither away as she had another 6 sandwiches.
I enjoyed the session after lunch much much more. We got to learn what we'd be doing and met the first acronym of the day - VLM - Venue Logistics Manager. Ours had worked on the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, and a rock festival in Australia. Just to give you an idea of the logistics of a World Event, the kit we will be lifting and shifting will have been used in the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and if Sepp and his cronies hadn't taken a back hander, probably at the Wendyball World Cup in England as well. The stuff will be shifted from the DHL depot near Coventry into Villa Park, and afterwards to Leicester for the games there. Once finished, it will be shipped into the community game. There re 20 volunteers per venue, and we will be handling 9 loads a day at Villa, over 5 days, and will need to pack it all up and away in two days! Getting it into the site is called 'Bump In', and getting it out of the site, 'Bump Out'.
As last time, the official transport partners are DHL, and I was excited this week to see this vehicle appear on the drive at work. They will be shipping in 4 tonnes of 'stuff' per team, and at the moment the World Cup Logistics team are liaising to get the import paperwork correct, as there's some weird and wonderful requests.
If you want to know the secret of the All Blacks success? They use deer's blood as a supplement to get fitter! Want to know the secret of the Georgia's success? 400 litres of red wine they want to bring with them, To me that sounds more like a proper rugby tour - Georgia aren't going to win it, unless possibly 16 other teams get disqualified, so they will enjoy testing themselves against the game's best and celebrating their minor victories afterwards.
We then ran through some basic tasks, stretch wrapping a pallet; the VLM didn't look too pleased when one fat guy said he had a bad back so couldn't do it- the jobs about carrying stuff you idiot, why did you volunteer for that? - mind you he cheered up when he heard he could volunteer to drive and fill in paper work. We also had to lay out a room according to a CAD room data sheet, (this was awkward, as we didn't know each other and it needed someone to take charge), and also build shelves. Obviously building is men's work, and despite me telling them that they had the 'legs' upside down, and unfortunately they were suffering from selective deafness, i.e. could only hear male voices, so had half built it when they realised it was wrong. I did have a satisfied grin when they found out and even more so, when they were timing the whole thing and we didn't finish first. (Oh I would hate the smugness if it was in someone else!)
In answer to the guy at the start when I jokingly booed against rugby's values, and how we have to protect them etc..... a child was air lifted into the Children's Hospital next door as we left the University. In the grand scheme of things, we all enjoy rugby, its fun and banter, but its not what really matters is it?