Where would community sports be without volunteer coaches who head to the fields to coach after a long day at work?

It is often said, it takes a village to raise a child, but nowhere is this more applicable than in the world of sports.

Having spent the last 10 days watching the world’s greatest athletes on the world’s biggest stage, I started thinking about all the ‘villagers’ who must have played a role in the lives of these Olympians.

While it’s the athletes and their coaches who are recognized and given praise and accolades for their performance, let’s think about the reality of what it took to get them to the Olympics.

We know it’s the coach and athlete who put in the long hours of training, with parents providing much of the financial and emotional support, but let’s dig a bit deeper to understand and appreciate all of the villagers who have played a role in getting these athletes to the Olympics.

In most cases, it was a volunteer coach or teacher who introduced these Olympians to organized sports at the grassroots level.

Where would community sports be without volunteer coaches who head to the fields to coach after a long day at work?

We should also applaud the officials and club administrators who volunteer their evenings and weekends to run competitions for these athletes to compete in.

Let’s give a big shout-out to all the carpoolers, travelling from house to house, picking up the kids whose parents were unable to get them to and from practice or games.

Let’s not forget the training partners who encouraged them when they didn’t feel like going to practice or cheered them on when they wanted to pack it in before the end of a tough workout.

The therapists who worked after hours and travelled to tournaments to ensure these athletes were healthy and ready to train or compete also had a hand in their success.

On behalf of all Olympians, I salute the villagers for their contribution and the role they played in the Olympic journey.

We are grateful for the part you played each and every step of the way