Infectious enthusiasm:
An interview with the Volunteering team

“Together with the volunteers, we want to make the Invictus Family tangible”

We talked to the persons responsible for volunteering, Major Alexander and Anuscheh, about their tasks, the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023, and the indispensable contribution of the volunteers – and we feel an enthusiasm that spills over.

The Invictus Games volunteers convey the spirit of the Games and make a significant contribution to giving competitors and Family & Friends an unforgettable time. Since January 2021, a strong duo has been behind the organisation of volunteering for the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023: Alexander and Anuscheh. It was a new challenge for both of them. But their strong conviction of the core idea of the Invictus Games helps them here.

Alexander , Anuscheh, what tasks fall within the scope of your team?

Alexander: We are responsible for the overall volunteering concept as well as the concept for training the volunteers immediately before the Games. Right now, we are in the middle of the Road to Volunteering, and we are continuously gaining volunteers.

Anuscheh: This is followed by the assignment, training and finally the management of the volunteers during the Games. After all, for effective teamwork, the right volunteer has to be in the right place at the right time. Joerg, Sergeant first class and a reservist with relevant experience, supports us in equipping the volunteers with the appropriate clothing.

What arguments would you use to convince someone who is still hesitant to apply as a volunteer?

Alexander: It is unlikely that there will be another event as special as the Invictus Games any time soon in Düsseldorf or in the whole of Germany. As a volunteer, you are part of the Games, in the midst of the competitors, with Family & Friends; you are there for the whole Games. The Games can be life-changing. Experiencing this and helping to shape them is an opportunity you should not miss.

The founder of the Invictus Games, Harry, the Duke of Sussex, visited Düsseldorf and the venues on 6 September, one year before the start of the Games. How does this prominent visit affect the recruitment of more volunteers by 31 October?

Alexander: One Year To Go and the visit of the Duke of Sussex have given us another boost and sparked public interest in the Invictus Games. We also noticed this in the increasing number of volunteer registrations around his visit to Düsseldorf. We are particularly pleased about the 500 international applications from over 47 nations so far. Among them, there are about 160 from Great Britain, approximately 150 from the Netherlands, more than 50 from Canada, just over 40 from the USA, and even 24 from Australia. In these countries, the Games have taken place before – and they have inspired people so much that they are willing to fly halfway around the world at their own expense to be in Düsseldorf as volunteers.

At the Games, volunteers are faced with people with extraordinary stories, and often with new tasks. How are they prepared for this?

Anuscheh: Before the Games, we are planning two training days on site. The first day will be in German and the second in English. The illustrative material will also be available online. Using videos, we will show authentic pictures of the Invictus Games and the competitors. This will give the volunteers an insight into what tasks, people and fates await them, what injuries they will see or, in the case of PTSD, what injuries they will not immediately see at first glance. They learn how best to behave and how to deal with different situations.

Alexander: We work together with the military psychology senior non-commissioned officer, the psychologist of the sports therapy group of the Bundeswehr Sports School in Warendorf, and the Bundeswehr Psychological Service. We also want to involve experienced Invictus volunteers, who will talk about their experiences and tasks. The training sessions are intentionally planned on two consecutive days so that the volunteers can exchange information and their experiences with each other at an evening kick-off event after the first day. During the Games, all volunteers will also receive task-specific training every morning.

What is your volunteer concept?

Alexander: The Invictus Games are about people, about the competitors and their Family & Friends. People are also at the core of our volunteer concept: the volunteers with their different personal and cultural backgrounds. With their warmth and openness, they create the ‘HOME FOR RESPECT.’ They convey appreciation and togetherness, and they spread the feeling of welcome for the servicemen and women and their relatives in Düsseldorf. In this way, we enable people to experience the Invictus Family.

Anuscheh: We have the great advantage that many of the volunteers really put their hearts into it. They don’t get involved just to be at a big event; they do it out of conviction, because they recognise the importance of the Invictus Games and want to be a part of them. This is what the Games live on. That is why it is so important to us that the framework conditions for the volunteers are right, down to the smallest detail, because we want to acknowledge and appreciate their commitment.

What do the Invictus Games mean to you personally?

Alexander: I accompanied the German team at the 2017 Games in Toronto as team manager and coach. For me personally, it was a very formative experience that also changed me as a person. I suddenly realised what is actually important in life. I am therefore very happy to be able to help shape the 2023 Games with such an important aspect as volunteering, and to become part of the Invictus story here in Germany.

Anuscheh: I only knew about the Invictus Games from the media, and that Prince Harry had initiated them. Then in The Hague, I experienced that the Games are not just a sporting event, but that there is much more to them. I was very emotionally touched by the competitions. And the volunteers also showed their motivation and eagerness. The Invictus Games are enormously important to show respect for servicemen and women. Because their service to their country, and thus for all of us, is still not recognised enough in society. The Games are a small piece of the jigsaw, which may contribute to their service being seen and appreciated a little more.

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