THE Olympic Games get under way this week and one city teacher will be swapping the classroom for the beach volleyball arena.
Nicci Bradley, a teacher at St Paul’s School, will be working as a Games Maker, making sure dignitaries and VIPs get to where they need to be on time.
And while working at the Games may be a dream for a lot of people, Nicci, of Oakridge Park, has another ace up her sleeve.
“I’ll be working at Horse Guards, where they will hold the beach volleyball,” she said. “A lot of my friends and the kids I teach think it’s brilliant and are pretty jealous! I can’t wait to get started.
“The arena itself is amazing. The volunteers have been in a lot this week to get to know the place, learn where we need to be and what we should be doing.
“To think that all of these places have popped up all over the place for the different sports and events taking place throughout the Olympics is amazing –especially when you hear all the naysayers telling us it’ll be a disaster from start to finish.”
After hearing volunteers were being urged to put their names forward to be part of the Games, Nicci and her mum jumped at the chance to get involved.
“We wanted to be part of the Olympics. It’s never going to come back during our lifetime so we had to be part of it in one way or another.
“We didn’t think much of our applications because I didn’t hear back for a while. When I got the call I was so excited.
“I applied for jobs at the track because I love the running events, but unless you were a semi-pro athlete, you were unlikely to get a job there. But I love meeting people, so this is perfect.
“And my mum is working on security at the Olympic Village.
“It’s a historic event to be part of. Just to say you were there, to say you were witnessing the Olympics in this country is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
“I don’t know if it’ll ever come back to this country again in my lifetime – I hope it does though.
“The atmosphere is incredible already. The volunteers are so excited to start working and the fans are desperate to get a look through the gates to see the progress of the arena.”
But it isn’t all sunshine and watching sport for the staff at the Games. The volunteers are expected to rack up at least 80 hours, most of which will be spent on their feet running backwards and forwards at the beck and call of others.
“The volunteers give up a lot of their own time to be part of the Olympics,” said Nicci. “I’m fortunate enough because falls in the summer holidays so I’m not taking time out of work to be part of it, but I know a lot of people are.
“The volunteers are the ones who will be working behind the scenes to make sure the Olympics run as smoothly as possible. I’m having to leave Milton Keynes at 4.30am to get there for the first shifts.”
For many, the Olympic Games being in London probably won’t hit home until the opening ceremony is over and the first medals are being handed out.
But Nicci’s experience really began when she went to collect her uniform.
“Going down to London to collect all the uniforms and bits of kit was when it really sank in,” she said. “They gave us everything – and I mean everything. I’m told what to wear right down to the socks. We’ll all be wearing the same shirts, trainers, watches, the lot.
“Even then, the atmosphere was buzzing to build and I started to get excited.”
Despite landing one of the most desirable roles at the Games, Nicci confesses not to know much when it comes to beach volleyball, but she isn’t going to let that stop her becoming an expert over the next month.
“I do watch a lot of sport on TV. My husband and his friends will watch almost anything sporting on the TV so I have to sit and watch it too. But I don’t mind it.
“I’m no expert in beach volleyball by any means, but as with any Olympic event, you watch it for 10 minutes and you get the hang of the rules, you spot what is a good shot and what isn’t – you become an expert within minutes.
“I’ll be all clued up on beach volleyball pretty quickly There’s bound to be so much more to it than just the bikinis and tight swimming trunks!”