19th August 2022

The Commonwealth Games closing ceremony takes place this evening*. Dubbed ‘The Friendly Games’ years ago, these sporting encounters have again, this time in Birmingham, been held in a wonderful spirit of togetherness, whilst also celebrating the diversity of the 52 participating nations. Badminton and athletics have held my interest as two of my best sports years ago, also coaching both outside school P.E. lessons. Crowds in the revamped Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr were tremendous, both in their enthusiasm, and attending in large numbers for morning sessions, not usually the case, even in world-class competitions, in the athletics world. It was so good to see many families, some with very young children, introducing them to big-event sport  in a friendly, safe environment – who knows where enthusiasm caught at an early age may lead?

As well as the Games playing a memorable part in the lives of athletes in all the sports, the same can be said for many of the army of volunteers helping greet, direct, steward, and drive athletes and others about the city. One volunteer, a young woman with autism, had previously found it difficult even to leave her own flat. She knows already that the courage she has shown to get out there and help others at these Games has changed her life for the better, and we hope, for good.

A beacon of hope in a gloomy world, pray the friendly spirit of Birmingham 2022 lives on in the hearts of all who have been drawn in around the world, and leave a legacy of true togetherness and co-operation for all our good.

David Bell

*Editor’s note: this Thought was lost in transmission from 8th August