#Lausanne2020 memories from ENGSO staff members

A few ENGSO staff members were involved in the Youth Olympic Games 2020 in January. Our Communications Expert and PR Liaison, Mariann Bardocz-Bencsik, and two staff members of the PlayGreen Erasmus+ Sport project, Niki Koutrou and Dirk Falken, were all in Switzerland for the Games. Now, it’s their turn to share their first-hand Youth Olympic experience with you!

Mariann Bardocz-Bencsik, Communications Expert and PR Liaison

“I was working for the World Curling Federation’s Media Team in Champery, where the curling competitions took place. In the first week, national mixed-gender teams of four players competed against each other, while in the second week, mixed doubles teams were former with one female and one male player from different national teams. The second competition gave the athletes a special opportunity to team up with someone from a different country and learn some team-building and communication skills rather quickly. I really enjoyed seeing how these teams evolved game-by-game. I also loved the concept of the Athlete Role Models, who are high-profile curlers that helped the young competitors by giving them tips, cheering them on and even comforting them after a loss. As the village of Champery is 60 km away from Lausanne, I didn’t go to the city that often. On my arrival day I managed to take a glimpse at the Youth Olympic Village in Lausanne and got together with my ENGSO colleagues, Niki and Dirk there. On another occasion, I took the train to Lausanne from Champery, where I met Laura Maria from ENGSO Youth. We both joined the Climate March for a while, which made my 4-hour train ride pretty much worth it.”

Niki Koutrou, Project Coordinator, PlayGreen

“I was volunteering as a National Olympic Committee Assistant. Observing first-hand the dynamics of how organising committees engage, motivate and effectively deploy their human resources ties in well with my research on volunteer management and volunteer legacy at mega sports events. My role was very exciting as I was acting as the key point of contact between the Organising Committee and the Heads of Missions. I liaised with the Heads of Missions to assist them with their queries related to the competitions, the management of their athletes, access to the venues, etc. I was based at the Vortex, the Youth Olympic Village, so it was great to interact with the young athletes and delegations on a daily basis. The most exciting part of my work was that I saw the Opening Ceremony, as I was helping with the escorting of athletes to their designated seating space at the venue. I was also able to visit Les Diablerets, the Alpine skiing competition venue. I was impressed with the idea of making this event as environmentally sustainable as possible. I’ve worked at the London 2012 Olympics as transport coordinator and to see that in such an event, public transport could be used by athletes, spectators and team officials effectively and without major issues, was great. It succeeded in the strive to make this event greener and in the attempt of making it more accessible and inclusive to the general population. The athletes were also encouraged to join the event in two waves, based on their competition schedule to minimise the resource burden for the environment and the organisers. This was a great lesson for us at PlayGreen who are trying to propose a new model for making sports events greener. It was also great to meet with some ENGSO friends and colleagues, and enjoy some of the competitions, the Olympic Museum and the general hype of the Games together.”

Dirk Falken, Project Assistant, PlayGreen

“I worked in the crew of ceremonies team as a volunteer. This included building up the stage, the podium and the ice rink, but the most exciting part around it was to be the escort for the athletes or the members of International Federations at the evening medal ceremonies. For instance, I met HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, the Prince of Jordan, because he is a member of the International Olympic Committee. So that was quite interesting. In terms of free time, I visited the Olympic Museum, the Lake Geneva which was really beautiful and I had the time to go to the mountains once to see the Alpine skiing competitions. Regarding my overall impression of the event, it was very interesting to see that they used public transport as the primary means of transportation, also for the athletes. What they made is a hybrid solution in terms of giving the athletes a shuttle ride to the train station and at the other train station there was another shuttle bus waiting for them. I think this could be a good compromise which I would like to see tested at other events. I think this way of thinking is a positive step towards sustainability.”

Photos from the Youth Olympic Games. Browse through the gallery by clicking on the arrows.

Some members of the ENGSO Youth family took part in the Games as well. Click here to read about ENGSO Youth Committee member, Kirsten Hasenpusch’s experience. If you are interested in how ENGSO Youth Young Delegate Laura Maria Tiidla enjoyed her YOG-experience, click here.