On Friday I was very fortunate to be invited to take part in an Observer Tour to take a behind-the-scenes look at an outstanding international event being staged in our own back yard, the 2011 Winter Games.
The tour was coordinated by SPARC and was attended by representatives of organizations hosting major events in New Zealand, the likes of the World Triathlon Championships, Volvo Ocean Race, Coast to Coast and of course Cycling Southland’s Junior World Track Cycling Championships next year.
It was a rare opportunity to “go behind the curtain” and witness an international event in action. The fact that Event Director Arthur Klap gave so freely of his own and his team’s time, speaks volumes for the efficient way the Games run. The calm atmosphere which prevailed over our day up the mountain was one of the day’s most striking features.
As always, there was real value in sharing ideas and challenges with some of the top people in the sports event space in the country. We all share the same challenges and these are all made slightly easier by days like Friday when relationships are built and concepts are shared. The insights into the Winter Games’ international promotion, mainstream and social media liaison, volunteer management, financial management, planning and review processes was hugely beneficial and you can’t help but be impressed by Arthur Klap’s willingness to share his learnings, warts and all.
We utilized Arthur’s services last year to assist with setting up the framework and initial event planning for the Junior Worlds and we’ve been benefiting from his input every day since. To hear him speak so passionately about the event and the sacrifices (personal and financial) he has made to see the Winter Games develop was inspiring.
He was very up-front about one of the major challenges snow sports faces, the ability to generate mainstream interest both in terms of national media and genuine awareness from the general public. Never before have so many Olympic and World Champions been in New Zealand for a sporting event. Did you know? Until Friday, I have to admit to having absolutely no idea.
I draw parallels with what we will be hosting at the ILT Velodrome over October. The best of the best in the sport of track cycling will be in town, training for most of the month in what will be a crucial determinant of who goes to London to ride for gold next year. Those decisions will be played out in front of us in Invercargill. Imagine if the All Blacks were basing their pre-World Cup training at Rugby Park. Think we’d all know about it?
Nationally, non-mainstream sports can often struggle to be heard over the white noise created by rugby, netball, cricket and league. The stories I heard at Winter Games and those that I am sure will play out at the ILT Velodrome in October need to be told as widely as possible. That’s our job, so expect to hear from us.
Nick Jeffrey is the Chief Executive of Cycling Southland