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Winning a championship – a volunteers perspective

For two years straight now, I have been volunteering at Game 3 of the NBL Grand Final Series. Both times, my team, the New Zealand Breakers, have come out on top. As most people don’t get a behind the scenes look at what happens, I thought I’d write down what that behind the scenes is like.

Usually, I would arrive at 5pm for a 7:30pm tip-off. This year, however, I was trying to get from Hamilton to Auckland, so I arrived just after tip-off. Before the game, we’ll go through the normal routine – if we’re at Vector, we’ll be potentially selling programs for the round (though not always, and I’m not sure if they sold them last night), or if it’s at the North Shore Events Centre, we’ll be helping usher people to their seats. At Vector, being a volunteer is quite sweet – you get to watch the game from the ground rather than the bowl. You’re much closer to the teams, to the players, to the action. At the NSEC, we usually end up sitting in Block 11, which is in the South Mezzanine. It’s a silver ticket view though, so that’s not a bad thing.

At half time, we’ll head to the production changing room. We’ll get instruction on what’s happening at the end of the game – it usually involves getting BK Whopper Junior vouchers to hand out for Game 3. Last year was actually a bit more special for me. I was helping the security guys stop people from walking in front of the guys moving tables and stuff on to the court for the presentation. Then, we got to move the table that had the trophy on it on to the court.

When the Whopper Junior vouchers are handed out and the people have left the building (the latter part takes a lot longer when you’ve just become the champions) we start packing up stuff. There’s a lot more to do at the North Shore Events Centre, because it’s pretty much all owned by the Breakers and therefore is the Breakers’ responsibility to remove. At Vector it’s better – we just have to remove the player banners (for anyone who’s gone to a game, they’re the big banners that each have a different player on) plus the basketball hoop they have upstairs. We used to have to do the LED sign that goes along one side of the court at Vector, but that’s not something we have to do anymore.

Then that’s it. One of the volunteers will go around collecting our yellow high-vis jackets and, if we’re at Vector, another will go around collecting the Venue Access passes. Then we leave and do it all again at the next game.

I’ve been volunteering for the Breakers  for three season and I have to say, I’m damn proud to be a part of making game day work.

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