Selfless service

Youngsters extending a helping hand. — Photo: M. Moorthy.  

They also serve, who stand and wait. (Old English proverb.)

WHAT CONTRIBUTED immensely to the success of the Hyderabad National Games was the large force of volunteers at almost every venue and at all key places where help was required.

More importantly, they were trained to respond swiftly, keep their cool and discharge their duties with efficiency. The force at the Lal Bahadur Stadium was exemplary. Led by P. Thimmappa, Assistant Public Relations Officer, Anantapur, it was made up mostly of college students drawn from the NCC and the NSS.

The choice of Thimmappa by the Director of Public Relations, Mr. Balasubrahmanyam and Additional Director, L. Kismat Kumar, could not have been better. A journalism post-graduate of Osmania University, he knew well the requirements of journalists.

If it was a football match at the Lal Bahadur stadium and the handful of scribes covering the event wanted the official time recorded of a goal scored, presto, Thimmapppa would have despatched one of his volunteers to fetch the necessary information.

His experiences as Liaison Officer for the Tenth Film Festival in Hyderabad stood him in good stead. Although totally new to sports and sports journalists, he adapted himself well. For the football competitions, the line-ups of the competing teams had to be obtained from their respective managers. Photocopies had to be made of these and handed over to impatient journalists, who would arrive just in time or late perhaps.

One of the volunteers, Ranjitha, fluent in Malayalam, established instant rapport with a set of reporters from Kerala, making them feel at home in an alien state. The very nomenclature of their work meant no pay packet would be waiting for them either at the end of the day or the assignment. Yet, almost all of them would arrive a full hour before events began for the day. Right through the 10-day long extravaganza, this reporter saw not a single sour face or any trace of irritation or annoyance on the part of these cheerful youth.

The Main Media Centre at the Lal Bahadur Stadium was indeed a boon for the journalists. A large number of computer terminals with high speed internet connectivity was more than welcome to members of the fourth estate, keen to clear their copy before set deadlines.

Under the able supervision of Ch. Johnson, P. Rampulla Reddy (both from the Information and Public Relations Department) and Bhasker Narsimham, attached to the ITDA in Khammam, the hitches were minor, if at all any.

The most trying assignment for volunteers could have been for those posted at the Main Media Centre. Exceptionally efficient among these were Pratima Teja and Ruchika Iyer, both students of St. Francis College, Begumpet, the former incidentally a student of mass communication. Often, this duo would arrive around 9 a.m. and leave around 10.30 p.m.

In the midst of a report, a journalist would want some background information of some sportsperson. Pratima would then surf the net and obtain the same, while the reporter's work went on simultaneously, uninterrupted and would not be found wanting for background material when his report was ready.

At the plush Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) tennis complex, Raja Reddy rose to the occasion, as did Madhu at the Fateh Maidan indoor stadium, scene of the boxing competitions. Thanks to the support from these gentlemen, most reporters had only to sit back, wait and be rest assured that results would reach them not much later than when they were compiled.

Students from the IIIT, Gachibowli, were not only adept at their tasks but always complied with requests hurled at them with increasing frequency. One of them, Shiva,almost gave full-grown computer professionals a run for their money, vis-a-vis IT skills. Most of them worked under the guidance of staff from the Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC).

In most of these youngsters could be seen a people-friendly attitude and a penchant for hard work . Thimmappa's reasoning was indeed logical. "Those who opt for NSS and NCC in colleges, especially with myriad distractions around, are certainly service-oriented in outlook,'' he said. Picking volunteers from these groups only made the selection process easier.

Not surprisingly, Pratima has been working with slum-dwellers in a Secunderabad locality much before the Games began. So when the call went out from the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh Vice Chairman and Managing Director, L.V. Subrahmanyam, she was one of the first to volunteer and enrol in the programme.

In a growingly self-centred and materialistic society, such selfless youngsters provide the silver lining to an otherwise cloudy scenario.