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World juniors draw strength from volunteers

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
When it comes to major sports events, Ottawa has a volunteering reputation that’s second to none.

Reason enough for organizers of the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship to think the tournament will be in good hands when it comes to the nation’s capital in 240 days’ time.

“We’ve had the Memorial Cup here, we’ve had the Grey Cup here,” said Jim Kyte, co-director of the 2009 WJC’s volunteer committee with Barb Tiffen. “We’re coming off a very successful FIFA U-20 World Cup.… Historically, there’s been a very strong volunteer base in Ottawa. It’s something we’re very fortunate to have in our area.”

It’s also something, Kyte believes, that will play a key role in the success of the tournament in Ottawa.

“This event will sell itself,” said Kyte, a former NHL defenceman, most notably with the Winnipeg Jets. “But the event cannot run without volunteers. They’re an integral, vital component to its success.

“We have a lot of international visitors coming to our city. Any host or volunteer becomes the face of the event or a point of contact for them. A well-trained, friendly volunteer team is definitely a priority for the event’s success.”

The 2009 WJC also offers a rare opportunity for Ottawa to welcome the world.

“This is a great opportunity for Ottawa to put a great step forward,” said Kyte. “It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase our city and our people as being warm and friendly, and to put on a fantastic event.”

That’s exactly what organizers of Ottawa’s WJC have in mind.

“Our goal is to make this the best world juniors ever held in Canada,” said Kyte.

With National Volunteer Week now underway across Canada, tournament organizers have officially begun their recruitment to fill out the team of 1,400 volunteers that will be needed for the tournament. While more than 1,200 volunteers have registered so far, another 200 are still required in areas ranging from accreditation, communications and hospitality to security, transportation, accommodation, interpreters and administrative support.

Kyte said the “vast majority” of the volunteers will be needed from Dec. 20, six days before the tournament begins, until Jan. 6, the day after the bronze and gold-medal games are played at Scotiabank Place.

Tiffen adds “volunteers must be 16 years old as of their first assigned shift of the championship, and we’ll need them to work a minimum of 30 hours throughout the championship, with most shifts lasting six hours.”

Ten countries, including four-time defending champion Team Canada, are set to compete in the 2009 WJC, which runs from Dec. 26-Jan. 5. More than 460,000 tickets have been sold already, a record number for a world junior tournament.

A total of 31 games will be played – 17 at Scotiabank Place and the remainder at the Ottawa Civic Centre, home of the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s.

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