Volunteers are the backbone of any event in making sure it runs smoothly. People from all ages and backgrounds are set to volunteer for the SEA Games 2017. Around 50,000 applicants that applied for the 13,000 spots had to go through PDRM security clearance to ensure that they do not have a criminal record as safety is the main concern for this event.
Apart from screening by the police, the applications of the volunteers are sifted through to assign them jobs which are most suitable for them.
Among the applicants that succeeded in becoming a volunteer are seasoned volunteers such as 78-year-old Jaswant Singh Inder Singh. The retired Malaysian Railways employee is no stranger to the SEA Games as he volunteered for the 2001 SEA Games where Malaysia hosted the games. 16 years later, he happily volunteered again.
“Volunteering is in my blood. I enjoy it and it is my contribution to the nation. I will keep on volunteering for as long as I can,” he says.
On the task required as a volunteer, Jaswant says “our responsibility is great and everyone’s eyes will be on us. Everyone will also come to us when they face problems. We have to be professional in discharging our duties. We have to be patient, polite, and tactful when dealing with people whether they are spectators, officials or athletes.”
Greeting the foreign athletes at the airport and taking part in pre-game events are part of the task required as a volunteer. Volunteers are also the first people spectators meet at the Games, and the ones everyone goes to for help or assistance.
First Time Excitement
Upon confirmation for a spot, the first-time volunteers were overwhelmed with excitement.
After applying in March, Abdul Aziz received confirmation for a spot in May. The 24-year-old had already been assigned a position based on his background and profession. “I’m excited but as the event draws nearer, I am starting to feel a little nervous too. After all, I can’t predict what’s going to happen and I hope I will be able to cope with whatever crops up” he says.
Among the youngest volunteers, Alia Balqis Anuar, 17, couldn’t contain her excitement, even though she will be sitting for the SPM at the end of the year. “I can’t believe I was chosen. And I can’t wait for the Games to begin. I like trying new things and getting chosen to do this… the feeling is indescribable. I’m really excited.”
According to the Star, the volunteers have been receiving training which has been an introduction to the scope of their roles and they are determined not to disappoint. All volunteers must go through a general training programme where they are briefed on the history of the Games, the countries participating in the Games and the sporting events taking place.
“People volunteer because they want to help,” says Mohd Saiful Nizam Anuar, KL 2017 secretariat senior executive officer. “Many of our older volunteers have had experience volunteering at such events before keep doing it because they want to serve the country again and again. The younger ones want to experience. They want to be a part of a large, international event. They are excited to be able to see the Games, to be involved in its operations and meet the athletes. But at the end of it all, everyone enjoys themselves.”
Volunteers are given a daily allowance of RM50. They also get an official volunteer T-Shirt, pants and cap and a certificate of participation as well as insurance coverage. Volunteers are expected to work for eight hours a day, although their schedules depend on the nature of their assigned jobs.
“We must not ask what our country can do for us. It’s what we can do for our country,” says veteran volunteer Jaswant Singh Inder Singh.