Working long hours for no money may sound like a rough deal but for a volunteer from Sheffield at the London 2012 beach volleyball it is a ‘dream job’.
Esref Ulas had to take annual leave from his job as a civil engineer at the Highways Agency to take part in the Games as one of 70,000 volunteers.
But it was all worth it for Mr Ulas, aged 42, of Sheffield, as the job comes with a unique behind-the-scenes view of the action as it plays out in Horse Guards Parade.
“It’s a dream job for me. I applied a year ago and went through interviews. I didn’t apply specifically for beach volleyball but when I found out I was selected I felt ecstatic and very, very happy to be taking part in such an historic event.
“250,000 people applied for volunteer work so I feel really privileged. There are about 1,000 Game Makers here in Horse Guards Parade who are all working really hard to make the Olympics a success.”
Mr Ulas, who came to live in the UK from Turkey more than 20 years ago, added: “My parents back in Turkey are so proud. My father said; ‘Son whatever you do, even if you have to sleep on the streets, you should do that job’.”
On the training courts, Mr Ulas said the atmosphere among the competitors is very friendly but they are all very focused on winning.
“We collect the balls for them, rake the sand, make sure all the equipment is in good working condition and make sure they’ve got drinks and towels.
“The athletes from time to time ask us to get involved with practice sessions and use us as dummies to block their spikes. Some of the teams actually practise together and the athletes and coaches have a good sense of humour.
“We do mingle with the athletes. I met the GB team, Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney and Kerri Walsh and Misty May from the United States. The US girls are the legends in beach volleyball.”