David Grevemberg

5th October 2012 at 01:00
The chief executive of Glasgow 2014 talks about his role in organising the major sporting event, the possibility of tickets for schools and why he's interested in all sports, even tiddlywinks. Interview by Julia Belgutay.

What do you think people should know about you?

That sport has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and that I have played the role of athlete, coach, administrator, fan and advocate for the power of sport to be transformational and to be a force for prosperity and good. That's my passion.

What is your own sporting interest?

I was a wrestler and I enjoy combat sport. However, I don't think there is one sport I don't enjoy. I just enjoy the competitive nature of sport, the journey that sport brings in life, to a particular event or actually during the event. It could be a game of tiddlywinks: I would be into that, I would be looking for the inspirational aspects of it.

What is the most important part of your role in organising Glasgow 2014?

It's to make sure that we stay true to our principles, that we recognise and appreciate the responsibility we have and deliver on the investment and ambition these Games were brought to Glasgow for.

What has been the biggest challenge?

To continue to have the conversation about where the Commonwealth is today, why it is relevant, and where it is going. There is a complex and fantastic history, heritage and tradition wrapped up in this fraternity, and there is a union of nations that has peace, prosperity and democracy at its core.

Is that why the Games remain relevant?

Yes, because it's not only a showcase, but an opportunity, a gathering of those nations. They are able to come together, in their united diversity, and celebrate sport and culture.

You are originally from New Orleans - do you think you find it harder to capture the spirit of Glasgow?

I don't think it puts me at a disadvantage. It gives me an objective viewpoint, which allows me to look at things differently, bring different perspectives and connect them.

The Games are two years away - are there ways in which schools can get involved now?

We launched an education programme in September, and there are a number of programmes indirectly associated with what we are doing. The programme entails a platform with resources for schools to access information on the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Games. It is not just about downloading the information. Essentially, we have a call for action, to do things with what they have learned. It is engaging young people to really be the Games and be the Commonwealth and contribute their value.

Why is it important that children and young people get involved?

The future of the Commonwealth is in the hands of children, so it's important for us to be inspiring, engaging, exciting and motivating, and to be a mechanism through which we can build an understanding, a connection and connectivity and foster leadership.

When we come to the Games, are there any plans for tickets for schools?

The way we are looking at ticketing is we want a Games that has full stadiums and is accessible. There is no question that families and children are a high priority in terms of the experience of the Commonwealth Games. So that is something we are continuing to develop policies on. Our tickets will be going on sale in the summer next year.

At that point, what other ways will there be for schools to be involved?

The cultural programme, the Queen's baton relay, welcoming the Commonwealth to the streets of Glasgow and Scotland. There are different initiatives that we will continue to roll out, programmes that will be engaging young people as part of this journey. And as we ramp up, we will start to look into some of the more creative aspects around our ceremonies. No doubt there will be a role to play there.

Do you think occasions like the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics can spark a lasting interest in sports?

In my personal life, the Olympics certainly gave me a real inspiration. Yes, I think it can have long-lasting inspiration. The spectacle of the Olympics, now with all the media channels we have, becomes a storytelling opportunity for us to learn about humanity, overcoming struggle and adversity to achieve success and glory. I think that's a really important archetype in today's world.

With the timing of Glasgow 2014, do you think there is any risk it could be used politically?

Our role as Glasgow 2014 is to run the Games and, really, the question of independence is a decision for the Scottish people to make. We have a clear vision, athlete-centred, sport-focused Games, world-class competition that is celebrated throughout the Commonwealth and that leaves a lasting legacy for Glasgow and Scotland.

When you look back in 10 years, what would you wish for in terms of what the Games would bring to Glasgow and Scotland?

That the enormous pride Glasgow has in itself continues to be reinforced by the confidence of running this big event, that the venues that have been built are bustling with activity, both locally and hosting major events, that sport and culture become a prominent part of people's daily lives, and that Glasgow continues to host major sporting and cultural events.


Born: New Orleans, 1972

Education: Lusher Elementary School and St Martin's Episcopal High School, both New Orleans; Springfield College, Massachusetts; Georgia State University

Career: National competition director, Disabled Sports USA; executive director of sport and international federation relations, International Paralympic Committee; chief operating officer, Glasgow 2014; chief executive, Glasgow 2014.

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