Winner’s blog: Being inspired by the Commonwealth Games

How fantastic has the Commonwealth Games been? Glasgow has done us proud. The opportunity to see so many nations come together and compete in such a variety of sports has definitely brought back into our communities the buzz of London 2012. We wonder how many people will sign up for their first triathlon or join their local netball league after seeing Team England in action this summer?

One person who is definitely feeling motivated by the event is our Shining Light, Shaida Akbar. Nominated by an esteemed panel of judges from a shortlist of outstanding Community Games Shining Lights, Shaida was invited to attend the Commonwealth Games to see legacy in action. We caught up with Shaida on her return from Glasgow to find out about her experience and what ideas it’s given her for Berkshire’s answer to the Friendly Games – the Upton Lea Community Games.

Hi Shaida. Now we’re dying to know, how was your trip?

Going to Hampden Park was… well, wow. The atmosphere when we got there was amazing. I took my two daughters, my niece and her baby son with me. The kids really enjoyed it. It’s just so magical. It's like taking them to Disneyland but it’s more real. Normally my 8-year old daughter doesn't stop chatting, but she was gobsmacked.

You were there for the athletics. What were your highlights?

There was so much going on in the arena; so much to watch and everyone was engrossed. We were fortunate to see the shot put and the gold medal being presented to England. It was pretty awesome to hear the national anthem being played and everyone cheering.

It must have been an incredible feeling to be part of that moment. But the buzz of the event comes from more than the athletes and the podium presentations. In fact, the Commonwealth spirit starts before you even arrive at the stadium.

Definitely. It was a long walk from the station to the stadium. There were so many people but there were plenty of stewards and volunteers to keep everyone on track. They were all smiling and happy and were high fiving everyone, which really added to the atmosphere. The whole tone of the event was very laid back.

It really shows just how important volunteers are to the success of major events. Your Community Games is just a couple of weeks away but is there anything you’ll be implementing this year that’s been inspired by your Commonwealth Games experience?

Yes, you must always smile whatever happens. Usually we have about 30 volunteers to help out at our event and I’ll be encouraging them to smile, be happy and enjoy themselves because people are there to have fun. Being part of the event is about helping people to enjoy themselves – that’s the most important thing. We’re also getting some Commonwealth flags and thinking of getting some hands for the high fives as well to create a similar buzz.

Your Community Games is a multisport event offering attendees the opportunity to try a whole variety of sports for free – everything from archery and relay races to cricket and volleyball. There’s definitely a Commonwealth vibe about it.

Multisport events are the way to go. We try to get lots of different sports together which you wouldn't normally see in one arena. We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to try new sports at our event that wouldn't normally get involved in mainstream sport.

How do your volunteers help you to show sport is for everyone?

Volunteers take part in the activities at our Community Games too. It’s important for attendees to see people from everyday life playing sport to encourage them to do it. Seeing professional players might put them off.

Sounds like you’ve got a great team to work with. Good luck with the event and congratulations again on becoming our Shining Light.

This concludes our Community Games Shining Light 2014 blogs. We hope the stories of Shaida and our other regional Shining Lights have inspired you to get more involved in your communities and bring the London 2014 legacy to your neighbourhood. For more information on the support and resources available to organise your own Community Games, please visit

Winner’s blog: Being inspired by the Commonwealth Games