My Games Experience: Louise Cunningham
Working for Glasgow 2014 was a dream career goal for me, I studied events at university and focused a lot on the impacts large scale events had on host towns and cities; in 2011 I completed my dissertation on the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, researching and proposing views on the legacy to be left by the games, along with the economic and social impacts of the 2014 Games on Glasgow as a host city.
When the opportunity came to join the Search on site team at Glasgow 2014 I was delighted that I would get to play my part in Glasgow’s Games.
Early 2014, adverts appeared for people to join the cast for Opening and Closing Ceremonies and after auditioning at Film City I had accepted I would not be involved...though it turns out dodgy dance moves and tons of enthusiasm are exactly what the organisers were looking for! We had 4 weeks of tough rehearsals to become one of 500 athlete marshals who moved in sync with one another. Walking out to the field of play on 23rd July, the date of the Opening Ceremony, was an amazing experience that I will never forget; a stadium that I visited in P6 on a school trip and here I was about to perform in this very stadium full of people! Everyone asks how we managed to dance for so long (about 2 hours in total) but to me it felt like minutes. I really loved every minute of it, we had so much fun together in our little cast family that we were just enjoying putting on a show for the athletes, forgetting about the thousands in the stands and millions at home watching! After everyone went home we carried on dancing and chanting and having fun, Team Uganda stayed behind to join in the action and have a dance off which was another unforgettable part to the evening. It was all so surreal, it almost felt like a dream!
I didn't have much time to recover from the Opening Ceremony or let it sink in, as at 6am the next morning I had to be on shift at the SECC Precinct for day 1 of competitions in my role as Venue Protocol Manager. It was my responsibility to look after any dignitaries visiting our venues and ensure they had the best possible experience. It was really long days and I didn't see inside my house for more than 7 hours each of those 11 days but I would not change the invaluable experience for anything, running on adrenalin and pride and working with a great bunch of volunteers ensured we all had a great time!
I met many influential people from a number of Commonwealth Countries but the stand out meeting for me has to be when I escorted HRH Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to a boxing session. We spoke of normal everyday things and shared a few laughs at guessing which weight categories each of us would fall under in boxing, it was a really nice afternoon. My Facebook started blowing up about an hour after the encounter, with people tagging me in pictures from a news website - I don't think I've ever had so many likes on one thing! The following day I woke up to my face splashed across different newspapers - it was then that I realised outside of my little Commonwealth Games bubble this was a pretty big deal, at least the cameras caught me at an ok angle!
On 3rd August, I got to be involved with the Closing Ceremony, not performing this time though my fellow ex cast members assured me they had lots of fun! After ensuring all of our VIPs and dignitaries were settled down for the show, we got to take a seat and watch as we said goodbye to this project that took over our lives and our city for a period of time and hand over to Gold Coast, there were a few tears shed - some in relief that we would get to sleep for more than 4/5 hours a night, others were tears of happiness that we brought the best Games ever!
Now, coming out of the Commonwealth bubble I can't believe what happened in such a short time period, performing to billions and nailing it! And then casually meeting the Royals and having my face splashed across print as if it's an every day occurrence! I look back with pride and now having caught up with sleep I'd definitely do it all again!