League of nations ensured ninth World Cup in Malaysia was a massive success

Aug. 19, 2019 @ 21:30 UTC

The 2019 Touch World Cup conducted in the Putrajaya region of Malaysia in May was a truly global and voluntary event management effort.

Led by tournament director Australian-based Gary Reynolds, a former Scotland international and coach, the volunteer event team collectively devoted thousands of hours preparing for the tournament, which attracted 2,400 of the best touch talent ever assembled.

The team around the grounds

The league of nations behind the 2019 Touch World Cup includes administration and operations manager Kevin Hill from Manchester in England. Hill, who is the events manager for Touch Europe and New Zealander Ian Milne, the event's operations coordinator, ensured game time purred like a well-oiled engine. Milne proved indefatigable in the face of Malaysia's testing heat and humidity. The well-respected Kiwi has been heavily involved in past World Cups, Trans-Tasman series and Pacific nations tournaments.

Hill, who works in software development, cut his event management teeth at the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012. With a background in track and field, Hill started his association with international touch in 2015 at the 8th World Cup in Coffs Harbour, Australia.

Other members of the ground staff included dedicated Brits Zoe Malarky from Nottingham and Newcastle-based Erica Robertson. Ian Dela Cruz was the sole representative from the Philippines.

Away from the touch pitch, the British members of the event team are an eclectic bunch. Robertson, for example, is an engraver with a sports science degree from North Cumbria University. Fellow- Brit Malarky has a master's degree in maritime law and a bachelor's degree from the University of Toulouse. A member of the European Championships event team in 2018, the bilingual Malarky works as an aerospace buyer for Clarendon Speciality Fasteners.

With a degree in electrical engineering from the University of the Philippines, Dela Cruz trialled for his nation's highly fancied Men's Open team. After missing world cup selection, the popular Dela Cruz has focussed on honing his event management experience at touch events in Australia and Hong Kong. The Filipino known affectionately as "DC" seemed to thrive in the field the warmer conditions became in Putrajaya.

Malaysian team member thrilled to be part of the event team

The host nation is represented on the event team by Hannah Chiam, who worked as a volunteer at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015. Chiam, who recently returned to Malaysia after 17 years in New Zealand was delighted to work on a major sporting event in her country of origin.

Apart from the experienced Ian Milne, other New Zealanders on the event team were Guy Barton, a sports development manager for Counties Manukau Sport and the affable Soyra Christie. A popular team member, the energetic Guy never let the Malaysian heat sap his enthusiasm, while Soyra's unflappable demeanour proved an asset for the event team.

The Pacific Islands and Europe were covered too with Paris-based Fijian-born Linda Acker the first point-of-contact for the athletes. The busy Linda was also responsible for all information and administration areas at the venue, merchandise, and the official ceremonies.

Other volunteer Aussies joining tournament director Gary Reynolds on the event team included FIT's Sports Development Director Peter Topp and Touch Football Australia's Colette Ritchie. FIT's former Marketing & Promotions Director Hamish McLean remained in Melbourne due to the imminent birth of a first child but played a critical role curating our social media accounts during the tournament.

The voices of the tournament

Expert ground announcer Adam Collins also never missed a beat throughout the tournament, whether announcing games, taking charge as master of ceremonies, meeting and greeting Malaysian dignitaries and just keeping a general eye on proceedings across the hundreds of games during the six-day tournament. Adam also jumped in to assist Scott Macallister in the central commentary position.

Scott's passionate and knowledgeable commentary proved a star turn on the FIT Facebook page during the tournament and for the global audience who tuned into the action via the BBC.

Bill Ker, Secretary-General, Federation of International Touch, thanked the outstanding teamwork of the FIT volunteers during the 2019 TWC. He added, "I have no doubt that without the work ethic of the team, the 2019 TWC would not have been successful."

Article by Anthony O'Brien.