14 Jun 2016
Neel gains recogition at Rio
Neel Deshpande is a second year Sports Management student at Loughborough University. After having been part of the Coach and Volunteer Academy (CVA) throughout his two years, he has done extremely well to earn a place as a volunteer at this year’s Rio Olympics. It is a fantastic opportunity and it is testament to Neel’s hard work over the last two years as a volunteer.
The CVA supports students by providing them with unique coaching and volunteering opportunities. When asked about his involvement, Neel said:
"I saw what the CVA had to offer and looking at my course, Sport Management, I saw a direct connection, for example, if I am learning about Sport Event Operations, I can actually apply this directly by getting involved in the academy."
"I got involved and did as many hours and events as I could. I really enjoyed it because I was around sport and that is something that I enjoy."
Neel has been a fantastic asset to the CVA, giving up his time to work as a stadium operations volunteer with Leicester Riders, alongside assisting at Loughborough Students Rugby matches, Loughborough Swimming events, the National Badminton League, Loughborough International Athletics and the English Gymnastics Championships.
He has also helped deliver sports presentations for Loughborough Lightning Netball, and worked on the digital marketing when any football teams came to the university, such as Leicester City Academy.
After extensive hours of volunteering, Neel decided to advance his responsibilities by taking up the role as a recreational secretary for cricket and football. He then applied to be on the My Lifestyle Committee as an Events Coordinator, which is specifically designed for students who want to exercise, keep fit, and play sport for fun in a relaxed environment.
It is no surprise that Neel was assisting at an event when the idea of volunteering at the Rio Olympics was mentioned.
"I was volunteering with Leicester Riders and speaking to the Operations Manager who said that the Olympics are coming up and there will be a lot of opportunities. I had a look at it and it interested me because of the exposure that I would get."
"I had a chat with Cath at the CVA, and my personal tutor, because it is an investment when you are volunteering abroad, financially and otherwise. They said it’s a wonderful opportunity and you must do it, so I applied. What they were offering was something really enriching and that’s why I went for it.”
The CVA has provided Neel with a financial grant, and he has also been awarded the Loughborough College of Education Commemorative award to fund the trip to Rio. He will be volunteering for the entire duration of the Olympics, and he believes that his experiences of volunteering at Loughborough really helped his application.
"When I took on the role of a Sports Volunteer, it really helped me draft my application to ensure I expressed myself well, making it clear why I should be selected. This covered what I can actually contribute, what I know about the values of Olympism, and what I know about being culturally inclusive. Also it was about sport being a lot more than just a competition, getting different types of people together and different cultures, so that’s what I was really tested on."
"I was also given a lot of tailored mentoring by the CVA. They guided me as to what I could mention in the application form; what would catch the organiser’s attention."
The application process was extensive and it highlights Neel’s commitment that he was eventually awarded a volunteer role in Rio. A general application form was completed first, and in addition to this, Neel had to showcase his impressive linguistic skills to prove he was right for the job.
"I had to do language courses, English was a formality, and then I had to do a basic Portuguese course. You also have to be fluent in either Spanish or French, and I am fluent in French along with native language Hindi, so I put in that as well. I think my linguistics skills really helped me apply for it and get the position."
Neel is currently completing his degree in Sports Management, and he thinks this really helped him secure the volunteering role.
"They tested me as to what I know about that side of a major event, and as I was doing my Sports Management course, I could directly reflect on what I had learnt and put it in the application."
The application process culminated in a Skype interview where Neel was required to work with around five other people from all across the world to produce a presentation.
"It was long application process but it was a lot of fun. I loved the presentation I was doing, presenting to about five or six people from the Rio 2016 Senior Committee was a great experience."
Once Neel’s place as an Events Services Assistant was confirmed, he was eager to find out which events he would be covering. During his three weeks in Rio, Neel will be working at the Maracanã Stadium, the Sambadrome Stadium and the Olympic Stadium for the Football, Athletics and Archery events, whilst also assisting the Marathon event.
"I think it’s going to be a great experience because I am going to be working at the football finals at the Maracanã stadium, and working at the Sambadrome which is where all the Samba Parades happen for the Archery event. I’m also going to be working for the Athletics events, so I’m really looking forward to being in the main zone."
"The opening and closing ceremony are taking place in the Maracanã zone so that’s really exciting. I’m really looking forward to working on as many things as I can, especially the Football finals. Football in Brazil is going to be a huge thing as I’m a massive football fan."
Neel is expecting long working hours throughout his time in Rio, with only three days off in total. Typically he doesn’t mind this as he is eager to make the most of a fantastic opportunity.
"I’m going there to volunteer so I don’t mind doing the hours – it’ll be fun! On my days off I am planning on going to some sport events and also visit the iconic Redeemer Statue, the Copacabana, the Ipanema Beaches and the Tijuca Rainforest! I’m also looking forward to trying some exotic Brazilian cuisine."
Loughborough Sport would like to congratulate Neel on this fantastic achievement, and wish him all the best in Rio.