Little did University of East London(UEL) students Stella Vinet and Aziz Shah imagine that volunteering to help out at a touchtennis Masters Tournament in London would provide them with such a fantastic opportunity to gain first- hand event experience. It also provided them with the unexpected pleasure of meeting international rapper and singer Sean Paul who had graced the X-Factor stage just the week before. We caught up with them to find out just how the volunteering had gone.
We were curious to know how the two students had heard about the event. Aziz told us: ‘Rashid Ahmad, who is the founder and organiser of the Masters Cup, gave a talk at our university and reached out to all of the Sports Therapy students for volunteers to help at the event. This was followed up by Michael Cole, Senior Sports Therapy Lecturer and Programme Lead at UEL, who then spread the word again through Social Media, which inspired Aziz and me to go for it.
The students were there to cover court-side first aid and provide the competitors with pre- and post event sports massage and kinesiology taping.
Stella said: ‘Some of the players had pretty tense, stiff muscles particularly in the lumbar spine area. We wanted to try and alleviate any discomfort that could affect their performance. It was also important that we encouraged the players to stay hydrated, as muscle cramps were an issue for many of them, especially towards the end of the day when their muscles began to fatigue. We also undertook some stretching and PNF stretching pre and post event.’
The two students worked together courtside to assure that it all went smoothly and both enjoyed working as a team. So what was Sean Paul doing there? Stella explained: ‘Believe it or not he was actually taking part and I saw him play against professional tennis player Marcus Willis and win. Tennis fans may remember that Marcus found himself on Centre Court at Wimbledon earlier in the year playing Roger Federer.’
While meeting and having photos taken with Sean Paul was a thrill for both students, for Aziz, the experience of providing assistance in an event of this scale was his favourite part. He said: “Being at the event as a Sports Therapist representing UEL and The Society of Sports Therapists was the main highlight from my perspective. I personally want to work in tennis in the future so being able to gain some practical experience assessing and treating players was a delight and is something I will aim to build on. “
For tournament organiser Rashid Ahmad, there was nothing but praise for the two young graduates. He said: ‘I must commend Stella and Aziz on both their professionalism and attitude at the touchtennis event:
“Utterly exemplary behaviour and I would never hesitate to recommend either of them for any task or to be a reference for them.” He very kindly presented the go-ahead pair with a tournament touchtennis hoodie and a Fitbit.
Volunteering can undoubtedly be very rewarding and you just never know who you might bump into!!