During the past ten days there has been a multitude of competitions right across the spectrum of sport where nearly 700 competitors from across the World gathered, 3500 volunteers helped out and numerous sporting governing bodies ran competitions.  The staff of the Pavilion were key to everything that took place and to them we all owe a huge debt of gratitude.

I was privileged to have been asked to manage one of the main sporting hubs located in the beautiful grounds of Parliament Buildings and the nearby estate over the first seven days of the event.  Hockey, 5 a side football, cricket, cross country, hill climb, criterium and of course tug of war fell under the umbrella.

And what a time. 

The sporting bodies were very good but the volunteers were exceptional, again coming from many parts of the World and giving of their time for free.  Well done to them. 

To get to my main point and our own Association.  Their contribution was immense.  The sports coordinator Richard Greer, who had no prior knowledge of the sport, was brilliant.  He coaxed, cajoled, persuaded and even dipped into his own pocket to get teams to enter the competition, which took place at the Stormont Pavilion on Saturday 3rd August.

Our own officials and helpers were the stars of the show.  Everyone on time, able to start the weighing on time and to have absolutely no fuss, was well received.  Teams from Spain, Sweden, Norway, Victoria Australia, Ireland and of course Northern Ireland were all lined up and although there was a little apprehension with the NIFRS team at the start, they went on to prove their worth at the end of the day.

A large crowd of between 3 and 400 people had gathered and began to support the teams as the competition progressed.  We were blessed with good weather, good facilities and great competition, intermingled with camaraderie from everyone. The competition flew through and before we knew where we were the mid afternoon had crept up on us and the competition was over.  Mr Cathal McKeever President of the Tug of War International Federation had been present during all of the competition and remained to present medals to team winners alongside the Chairman Mr Hugh McFetridge.

Into the large marquee set beside the pavilion, 300 plus people gathered before the medal ceremony began.  Nothing fancy or formal but a good afternoon’s craic was being looked forward to by all.  The Association marshals under the guidance of Alan Walker whipped the teams into position, all lined up side by side.  Then to the strains of Waltzing Matilda, Ill tell me ma and sweet Molloy Malone, teams were presented with their medals and looked back at their own achievements.  None more so that the members of the NIFRS, who at 10am, had said they were going home, only to end up with two silver and one bronze medal.  Not a bad day at the office.

Whilst those taking part won’t be competing at European or World level with the big teams, they all in their own way achieved a lot on the day.  Like tug of war at all of our competitions, whilst there is aggression and hard work on the rope, the friendships that are made and re kindled with people from many nations and from around the World is reward for the work that was put into this small competition.

On a personal note, thank you to all of the Association personnel that helped out in any way. Hugh as Chief Judge, Jim as Weigh Master, Patrick as Chief Recorder and all of the officials and marshals well done.  Fantastic event that was enjoyed by everyone.

Lets now look forward to working again with Volunteer Now at our next major event, the European Tug of War Championships in Belfast 2015.

There are loads of photographs on the WPFG2013 web site.

Written by:  - 11 Aug, 2013