Article Title:Outgames: time to take the plunge
Author or Credit:Jacqui Stanford
Published on:11th June 2010 - 11:40 am
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Story ID:8924
Text:Whether you're a budding Matthew Mitcham, a social squash player, or you can barely throw a ball, organisers say there will be something for everyone at the 2011 AsiaPacific Outgames. This weekend marks the opening of registrations for the event, which is being held in Wellington from 12-19 March. The key message from organisers that no matter what your sporting prowess or fitness level, you can get involved on a number of levels – as it's an opportunity to meet new people and make lifelong friends you don't want to miss. Over the next two days, there will be three registration launches in New Zealand and two in Australia. The first are in Wellington and Brisbane tonight, which will be followed by events Auckland, Christchurch and Melbourne on Saturday. Co-chair David Hindley says the team wanted to do something to give the Outgames a profile. "And say, 'hey, it's started, we've launched now this big event which has never been held in New Zealand before. It's really going to happen. It is real. You can sign up now'." GET INVOLVED Hindley says there are all kinds of ways people can participate. "If you're seriously competitive you can enter at that level. But there are also levels if you want to have a good social time and meet people." The confirmed sports are badminton, bridge, dancesports, diving, field hockey, golf, lawn bowls, mountain biking, netball, running, softball, squash, swimming, ten pin bowling, tennis and volleyball. Hindley cites tennis, squash and ten pin bowling as some of the sports where there are more social levels. "You don't need to be a massively good ten pin bowler. But it's a fantastic opportunity for you to actually spend a bunch of time with people from outside of New Zealand. I've been to quite a few of these events overseas – and it's great because you get to know people in a way and a depth that you can't when you just meet them at a bar or a club, or something like that." Hindley is encouraging people to look on the Outgames website to see how they might get involved. He says beyond the sports, there are arts and culture events and parties, as well as a human rights conference. "Everyone has friends overseas. Get in touch with your friends overseas and say 'hey listen this amazing thing is happening in New Zealand next year, why don't you come to New Zealand?'" Core members of the Outgames team VOLUNTEER A core team of 10 dedicated people, backed up with around 40 volunteers, has been steadily working towards next March. Hindley says over the next six months that will probably rise to around 70 or 80 volunteers, which will in turn rise to around 150 helpers by the time the event starts. "And you just look at some of the events, things like swimming events, you need so many people helping with timing and that type of thing. So volunteer assistance is hugely important." Hindley says people don't need to be based in Wellington to volunteer as there is plenty to be done. "It's pretty much across the board we're looking for volunteers. We've got great people but as the time gets closer and more and more work needs to be done, we'd appreciate more people onboard." Hindley points to media and marketing and fundraising are areas in particular where they need volunteers. "We've got good core people in all of those areas, but we just need more people helping out." A CAPITAL ATMOSPHERE Hindley believes Wellington is the perfect venue for the Outgames, saying it's a beautiful city which really takes its events to heart. "Think about the Rugby Sevens. The whole city goes mad for Rugby Sevens. If you think about when the Lions were here, again, the city's taken over for that. We think it's our turn to take over the city and for people to know we're here. " Hindley says competitors will be given ID tags and as they wander around town they will see plenty of their counterparts. "It's a really fantastic way to break the ice. You can see someone on Lambton Quay or Cuba Street or Oriental Bay with these tags and you can say 'hi', you know, 'are you from Wellington or where are you from?'" "We also have a really high visibility during these things, which we don't normally have. For me that's one of the exciting things, is you can go around town and you suddenly feel like the population of lesbians and gay men has doubled overnight, because suddenly we're there and we're visible. And that's the feeling that's the really buzzy, exciting feeling." Hndley says there will be many people coming from nations where society is not as welcoming and tolerant. "Particularly in Asia, and in the Pacific to some extent, where there are some horrific laws that people have to live under. And to be able to bring those people to New Zealand and meet them and talk to them here about their experience, show them what our experience is, is going to be just wonderful." Watch the ad for the 2nd AsiaPacific Outgames below. Jacqui Stanford - 11th June 2010    
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