De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) staff, students and grads are going the distance to ensure the smooth running of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games hosted across the West Midlands.
Birmingham 2022's athletics stadium
With athletes from around the Commonwealth competing across 21 venues in 19 different sports - including cycling, diving, athletics and basketball - Birmingham 2022 is taking place in England for the third time in the history of the Games and 20 years after Manchester 2002.
Experts from DMU’s Sport Management MSc are playing vital roles during the momentous sporting event, which only takes place every four years.
Sally Skea, a lecturer on DMU’s Sport Management and Cultural Events postgraduate degrees, secured a freelance position in the media operations team thanks to her extensive knowledge of the sport events industry.
Sally Skea at Coventry Arena (photo by Matthew Impey)
Her ongoing consultancy role with British Athletics, and experience of working at events such as the 2019 Cricket World Cup and London 2012 Olympic Games, made her an ideal candidate for helping to deliver the services required by the world’s media at Coventry Arena, where Rugby 7s, Wresting, Judo and Netball are taking place.
She said: “I’m working with the various media sectors to make sure they get optimum access and facilities to gain the coverage they’re after, which involves balancing the needs of international agencies and those of local outlets following the progress of particular teams and athletes.
“Working across three different sports means that no day is the same, making it a very memorable experience. The days may be long and tiring, but anyone working in this environment knows how rewarding it is.
Rugby 7s at the Coventry Arena
“What drew me to the opportunity was the buzz of a major event, especially because Birmingham 2022 crosses both culture and sport, and it’s a real privilege to be involved.
“It’s also a really valuable opportunity for our Sport Management MSc students who are benefiting from volunteering roles at the Games. The work experience and exposure to industry contacts and potential employers will make them that much more employable in the future.”
One such student is Joe Mee, volunteering in the field of play for table tennis. His role involves moving the athletes onto court, ensuring the table is set up correctly and directing them off the court after the game.
Joe Mee taking in the atmosphere at Birmingham 2022
“I was pleasantly surprised to get a role so close to the action and it’s been such a good experience – it feels like I’m part of the whole environment,” said the 24-year-old from Leicester.
“I even got to be one of the ball boys for a para athlete and it was completely surreal. I felt immense pressure to not fall down on national television. Joking aside though, it’s a real privilege to be a part of such a big sporting event.”
As well as holding an officiating award and coaching qualifications, Joe was picked for the role thanks to the hands-on industry experience he’s gained on his postgraduate degree, including working with the British Basketball League and volunteering at a British Triathlon event.
The History BA (Hons) graduate said: “After completing my undergraduate at DMU, I wanted to pursue my passion for sport and it was the field work option which drew me to the Sport Management MSc.
“I know how much experience is valued in this industry and I’m gaining the transferable skills I need to set me up for the future.”
For Herbie Johnson, securing a three-month contract with Birmingham 2022 is his first big role of its kind since graduating from DMU last summer. He’s part of the team allocating spaces for the athlete medical teams across the Games’ three villages, including accommodation and offices.
“I’ve learned an awful lot in a short time, which has been brilliant. I’ve particularly enjoyed gaining access and knowledge from behind the scenes, plus it’s a large network here and the contacts I’ve made have given me a lot of confidence for my career,” said the 25-year-old from Loughborough.
“With most of the admin side of the role finished, I’m now based on site at the Birmingham Commonwealth village - the largest of the three villages, hosting more than 3,000 athletes and officials – and there’s a great atmosphere here now that everyone has arrived.
Fireworks display at the athletics stadium
“The days are very long and can be stressful at times, but I’m having a great time working alongside so many different people from across the globe. It’s a great feeling being able to provide solutions to problems any of the delegations have.”
Herbie attributes his success in landing the role to the various industry opportunities he gained through the Sport Management MSc, including a sponsorship role with USA Bobsled and Skeleton and working with the Leicester Riders for his final project.
It was his determination to explore the operational side of the sports industry after completing a Media and Communication BA (Hons) at DMU, which spurred Herbie on to embark on the MSc.
He said: “In this industry you need experience and none of the other postgraduate degrees I looked at could offer me what DMU did.”
Posted on Friday 5th August 2022