They say time flies, but it is almost unthinkable that it was six months ago that the Olympic Games opened so spectacularly. The memories will live on for years to come, a summer which saw the best of what the UK had to offer, magnificent sport, an organisational triumph and of course an abiding memory of the team in purple and red: the Games Makers.
I myself have some very special memories of the Games. I had been involved for some years as the Chair of the nations and regions group, which in the early days galvanised and latterly organised the enthusiasm for the Games around the UK. During the Games itself though, I was fortunate enough to be the Mayor of the Olympic Village something I am hugely proud of.
It gave me a unique and extraordinary insight into the athletes' world, how they prepare, what they need to succeed, the level of detail and planning. I also saw how much they relied on our Games Makers. Whether it was someone from the medical team providing support and assistance, or someone from the chaplaincy providing moral support or a driver getting them to their training or competition venue, without the volunteers there would have been a huge hole in their preparation.
And if Olympic and Paralympic athletes, at the top of their game, rely on volunteers to that extent, you can imagine how much those further down the ladder need that help. Put simply if the Games were going to 'inspire a generation', then local clubs were going to need a bit of assistance. Coaches, stewards, masseurs, electricians, tea makers, officials. It's all very well inspiring people to take up sport; we were going to need to inspire volunteers to help them do it.
Luckily through some of the work done at LOCOG, this gap had been identified and I was delighted to become the founding chairman of Join In, a charitable trust set up to make sure we don't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. Between the Olympic and Paralympic Games last summer we worked with local sports and community clubs to host over 6000 events, with over 300,000 visitors. But most excitingly, out of this 30,000 people signed up there and then to become a volunteer.
This year, we're doing it all again - except of course this year, the Games Makers are back on the market. So we're calling on them to 'get back in the game', head down to their local sports club and pitch in. But it's not just about Games Makers, anyone can be part of it. Join In 2013 will take place between 27 July and 9 September and we're aiming for more events, more visitors and more volunteers created. Sports clubs and potential volunteers can register now on our website - www.joininuk.org to be part of it.
As we pass the six month mark since the Games, it is only right that people start to talk about legacy - but the great thing is the conversations started a long time ago, so we're in a great position. That doesn't mean we can be complacent, but with initiatives like Join In, with the work that government is doing and with the work that governing bodies, sponsors and other organisations are doing we are in a great position to take advantage of the opportunities the Games presented to us.
Legacy won't 'happen' overnight, it is something that will take ten years or more to realise. But the future is exciting - no other host city has created the opportunities we have. And I'm proud to be part of the jigsaw through Join In. If we can help local clubs the way we helped the Olympians and Paralympians this summer we will be well on our way to inspiring that generation.
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