Student volunteers help Team India stars feel at home during Commonwealth Games
By Darren CampbellShare post:
Read time: approx 6 mins
Indian students at University College Birmingham were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close with their country's stars competing at this year's Commonwealth Games.
Members of the Guild of Students' Indian Society volunteered to show their support for Team India athletes throughout the Birmingham 2022 games, supporting them on their arrival and during their time in the city.
The unique two-week volunteering opportunity came about through University College Birmingham's links with the Consulate General of India in Birmingham, the region's Indian embassy.
"I would like to thank the Consulate General of India in Birmingham for giving such a wonderful opportunity"
Joining with volunteers from our partner institution, the University of Warwick, as well as from the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University, the students met with the Team India contingent at Birmingham Airport on their arrival into the UK.
Under guidance from the Indian embassy, the group also attended every medal event in which India was competing to help cheer their athletes to Commonwealth glory.
And the students frequently found themselves sharing the spotlight with the stars, meeting the likes of wrestling gold medallist Bajrang Punia, bronze-medal-winning hockey captain Savita Punia and the silver-medal-winning women's cricket team.
The Indian women's cricket team shared a photo on Instagram with the volunteers
Their support of Team India was also covered by a string of TV channels, from the BBC, ITV and ESPN to Asian outlets including Zee News, Aaj Tak and Ten Sports.
The group of volunteers was led by Bharat Sakhuja, Associate Director of the University's International department, who has previously worked closely with the Consulate General of India in Birmingham.
"The objective of the project was to not only support the athletes during the Games but also to make them feel home away from home," said Bharat.
"I would like to thank the Consulate General of India in Birmingham for giving such a wonderful opportunity. Team India have made us all proud – thank you for these unforgettable memories."
The volunteering project received praise from His Excellency Dr Shashank Vikram, Consul General of India, at a closing ceremony event organised by the embassy for the winning athletes at the Hyatt Birmingham on 7 August.
The event also saw gifts presented to the Indian medallists by the Consul General alongside Professor Elaine Limond, interim Executive Dean of University College Birmingham's School of Business, Tourism and Creative Industries.
In pictures: Volunteers supporting Team India
Meeting the Team India athletes at Birmingham Airport
Presenting a flag to Indian cricketer Jemimah Rodrigues at the match against Barbados at Edgbaston
Celebrating the women's cricket team's semi-final victory against England
The group with Bajrang Punia, gold medallist in wrestling (men's 65kg freestyle)
Supporting Mirabai Chanu on her way to India's first gold of the Games in weightlifting (women's 49kg)
Bharat Sakhuja with women's hockey captain and bronze medallist Savita Punia
Managing athletes at a press conference organised by the Indian embassy in Birmingham
Prof. Elaine Limond and the Consul General of India with India's lawn bowls gold medallists
Prof. Elaine Limond presenting a token of appreciation to the winning Indian athletes
Prof. Elaine Limond and the Consul General of India with medallists
Our involvement in India
University College Birmingham has a wealth of strong connections with India, with students from the country making up a significant proportion of the University’s international community.
Earlier this year, the University forged new international collaborations with a variety of academic institutions and organisations in India to support skills development.
Staff travelled to India in late April to meet representatives from Chitkara University, GD Goenka University and the Institute of Management Studies (IMS) Noida, as well as the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the British Council in India.
The University also signed an agreement last year with Vibrant Gujarat, aimed at exploring progression opportunities to help meet India’s skills agenda and the NSDC’s vision of an ‘employment-ready’ young India.
Supporting the Scots
Team India were not the only athletes our students and staff supported during the Commonwealth Games, with University College Birmingham partnering with Team Scotland throughout Birmingham 2022.
The University served as the headquarters for up to 300 Team Scotland athletes and staff, with Summer Row becoming the team's central hub 'Scotland House', while Moss House was transformed into the team's exclusive Performance Centre.
Students had a wealth of opportunities to work closely with the team, from providing sports therapy and soft tissue support for athletes to offering salon services at the Athlete Village, as well as covering the competitions and interviewing athletes as part of a digital team.
Meanwhile students on the University's food and front-of-house courses helped to cater for the team, family and friends as well as supporting staff and dignitaries.
Find out more about University College Birmingham's official partnership with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games here.
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