Working behind the scenes at Earls Court: getting to know the young members of the ONS crew
2012 Olympic Games
London, Great Britain, August 9, 2012. ONS, an acronym that stands for Olympic News Service but more specifically, at Earls Court, for five young people that have been tirelessly supporting the media operations and coverage of the Olympic tournament.
Five personalities, with a different background, but each one with a story to tell; and a common pattern: they have all fallen in love with volleyball.
William, the “Aussie”
William Davies has gone a long way, moving to London from Western Australia four months ago with the sole goal to work at the Olympics. “I was only 13 when I had the opportunity to watch some basketball games and athletics as the Olympic Games were held in Sydney. This experience totally changed my life and made me understand that this is what I want to pursue: working for sport and for the media as well, this is my goal and my ambition”. William may settle down in the UK after the Olympics: “I definitely would like to spend some time in Europe, but this depends on the opportunities I will get, otherwise I will go back to Australia”. The guy from “Down Under” used to play volleyball at high school and then switched to rugby, but eventually returned to the sport that has attracted thousands of fans at Earls Court about a year ago, with the perspective of following the Olympics. “I think Australia was the real revelation of the Olympic tournament even though they did not make it to the knockout stage. These young guys came out without worrying about what was going around here and eventually took the first two sets to Italy and beat Poland, something which is really sensational. They have showed to many teens back home the way to move beyond club volleyball and go for a professional career”. Like many more fans, he was also captured by the unique style of the Asian teams: “Japan setter Yoshie Takeshita is just amazing. She plays great in defence and she always sets the ball in the perfect place for her spikers. She could be a perfect volleyball teacher”. Bulgaria has also drawn much of his attention: “I have been working closely with their team leader (Ljubo Ganev): he has been very friendly and supportive, helping us to get quotes in the mixed zone and get to know the players. I will be volunteering for the Paralympics in the next weeks, but the days I have spent here working for volleyball have been a great privilege and the experience of a lifetime”.
James, the “baby”
James Fielden, 23, is the rookie of the group and probably, together with one of his closest friends from the university, one of the youngest members of the ONS in London. “I applied a couple of years ago and being quite active on Twitter I got in touch with one of the ONS team leaders. Initially I was supposed to attend the football tournament as this is what I am doing all year round, web contents devoted to the national leagues in France, Belgium, up to Ecuador, Bolivia and Japan. Finally I was assigned to volleyball, with little knowledge of the sport but the basics. I played volleyball at school but had not attended any international game before the Olympics. I ended up by discovering this great sport and have enjoyed it massively”. James will be working also for the Paralympic Games and follow sitting volleyball there but still some days are left before he completes his first Olympic adventure. “If I had to pick out my favourite teams for the Olympic gold, I would opt for Russia’s men and the ladies of Team USA. Anyway, my favourite player remains Brenda Castillo, the libero of Dominican Republic. I think she is just outstanding plus we had a very nice chat in the mixed zone. She is a nice girl and a good communicator; it was nice to talk to her”. And what about the future of volleyball in the UK once the Olympics have come to a close? “I do hope there will be a legacy, even though I know that the GB teams have been confronted with limited financial resources even before the Olympics. You know, when I played volleyball at school, there was no path to make it to the next level, so hopefully this will change after the Olympiad”.
Nick, the journalist
A native of Liverpool, Nick Moore has been working as a sports journalist for the past 12 years, devoting his time mostly to football, but doing also other stuff for a small publishing company, writing for magazines and much more.
“Actually I started my Olympic campaign already last year as I joined the test event for volleyball here at Earls Court and gradually got to know more about the sport. Although I officially started working for the ONS six weeks before the Olympics, well before the Games I have been doing a lot of research to get familiar with volleyball and know more about the sport”. Nick was originally asked to follow the football tournament but did not accept that proposal, feeling that “football is not the most Olympic among all sports”. He is set to continue his work also for the Paralympic Games coming up later this month, following there sitting volleyball and thereby extending his Olympic adventure for some more weeks.
“Since the day of the opening ceremony, I have had only one day off and followed more than 70 matches at Earls Court. It has been quite exhausting but a memorable experience” he stresses. Nick lists Japan and Korea as his favourite teams from the women’s tournament, and picks out from the pack their respective stars Kim Yeon-Koung and Saori Kimura while questioned to mention the players that have captured his attention: “I really love the Asian way of playing volleyball; it looks very graceful, yet consistent and effective”. On the other hand, Nick says Bartosz Kurek is his personal standout from the men’s competition, together with local star Dami Bakare: “Unfortunately Team GB was not very successful in the Olympic tournament but I still think he’s an outstanding player and hope he’ll have a long career in the sport”.
Frédéric, the polyglot
Frédéric Ferreira, from Paris, is the polyglot of the group. He speaks fluent English, French and Portuguese and his help was very much needed to assist the operations in the mixed zone with the players from Brazil, Algeria and Tunisia. He is not a professional journalist but has been involved in sport since 2008, working for an agency that is marketing the TV rights of the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN). “I feel very proud of working at the Olympics. We have had very long days, and sometimes we all felt the fatigue due to our working hours but the ambiance and team spirit was always excellent so that we could leave all this apart and get ready for the next round”. He is very impressed by the quality displayed by all teams and lists Turkey and the Dominican Republic as the sides he enjoyed the most for the women’s competition. “I also like Bulgaria very much; they were here well before the start of the tournament and we got to know each other very well”. He will not stay for the Paralympic Games but won’t leave London with any regrets: “It has been some amazing weeks and the experience of a lifetime. I will never forget the ambiance we enjoyed here at Earls Court: this will accompany me for a long, long time”.
Emma, the boss
Emma Lupano from Italy is the boss of this crew. She is proud to recall that this is her fourth Olympics, after working for ONS in Turin, Beijing and Vancouver. “I officially started working here on June 18 and was gradually joined by the rest of the group. This is the greatest crew I have been working with; we built up the right team spirit, just like the volleyball teams that are playing here at Earls Court”. She has supported the other members not purely by sharing her knowledge of the sport, but especially in terms of working procedures. “The guys did their homework well; they studied a lot to get acquainted with volleyball and I was rather involved in organizing the daily work and make sure everything runs smoothly”. The group is actually supported by 12 volunteers, always coordinated by Emma, that help out by taking quotes in the mixed zone or by printing out and distributing stats and other sheets to the many journalists working at the media centre. “I like volleyball but my favourite sport in terms of media operations is swimming. The mixed zone there is really hectic and you can still feel the adrenaline as the athletes pass by after their races”. Emma will remain in London for the Paralympic Games but switch to road and track cycling. “Something special I will take from this experience? The team spirit, for sure; we had long days but was nice to stick all together and get rid of the fatigue, having fun and working hard at the same time”.