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Published: 27 Dec 2010 05:06PM (Singapore)
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In touch with the ground
Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010 volunteer Logapreyan Renganathan from the Ministry of Home Affairs talks about how being aware of ground sentiments and thinking on his feet helped him get through the chaotic moments at the action-packed Jalan Besar Stadium.
By Tan Yi Wen
Mr Logapreyan Renganathan, the venue media operations manager at Jalan Besar Stadium, had been setting up the venue one month before the inaugural Youth Olympic Games. PHOTO: Tan Yi Wen

Singapore Cubs captain Jeffrey Lightfoot's face was a bloodied mess seven minutes into the boys' football bronze medal match against Montenegro at the Singapore Youth Olympics Games (SYOG).

Lightfoot had suffered a deep gash on his right cheek when he collided with one of the Montenegro players at the 6000-seater Jalan Besar Stadium.

When the medical team needed help to carry Lightfoot out of the field to tend to his injury, volunteer Logapreyan Renganathan lent a hand, even though his volunteer job scope was that of the venue media operations in-charge.

“I knew that I needed to help this guy and just get him out (of the field). That was the only thing that I could think of,” said Mr Logapreyan.

This passion to help and contribute in different ways was one of the reasons why Mr Logapreyan signed up as a volunteer under the Short-Term Assignment Staff (STARS) programme for civil servants.

The Assistant Director of the Home Affairs Ministry’s Media Studies Unit had previously worked as an operations staff in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

That experience helped the 38-year-old train a small team to manage the international and local media that covered the Singapore Cubs’ 4-1 bronze medal match triumph over Montenegro.

On his experience with managing the media, Mr Logapreyan said: “Everything changes not by the minute, it changes by the second and demands were very high, pressure was very, very high. The decisions had to come directly from myself and I had nobody else to ask.”

“During chaotic moments where you get frustrated by people asking so many things, about wanting this and wanting that, you have to think on your feet,” he added.

Recalling his experience, Mr Logapreyan said one of the key challenges was to develop a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that was easy and practical for the volunteers in his team to understand and execute.

One week before the start of the SYOG, Mr Logapreyan briefs the volunteers in his team at the Jalan Besar Stadium on their roles for the event. On the right is the team from the Olympic Broadcasting Services who were there to interview the competition and venue managers. PHOTO: Tan Yi Wen
But he also learnt to deal with challenges as they arose on the ground.
“Sometimes decisions had to be made not based on paper and SOPs but based on ground sentiments,” said Mr Logapreyan.
One instance where Mr Logapreyan had to exercise such flexibility was when he helped Lightfoot's mother, who was among the spectators, access the players-only area so she could follow her son to the hospital in the ambulance.
Lightfoot was sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he received 15 stitches on his gashed right cheek.
“To me, it did not matter whether it was the media or not, it was just a person who needed help. I just did what came instinctively to me regardless of protocol or my role there. I just went and helped,” said Mr Logapreyan.
Mr Logapreyan had prior working experience with youths at a polytechnic and at the National Institute of Education.
“I worked a lot with younger adults in the age group of 15 to 18 so I was very accustomed to their psyche and I knew how they move and what they like so I thought for me it’s a natural integration into whatever I did in YOG,” said the father of two girls.
One of Mr Logapreyan’s most memorable experiences was helping the Singapore Cubs manage press interviews, especially when the Cubs lost against Haiti and had to learn how to manage their emotions before speaking to the press.
His advice and encouragement paid off and some of the Cubs and their parents thanked him for his help.
Mr Logapreyan also felt privileged to facilitate visits by half of the cabinet ministers at Jalan Besar Stadium, organizing interviews for VIPs and dignitaries and meeting some of the people that one usually only sees on television.
For his contribution to the games, he was presented with a plaque as a token of appreciation during an appreciation dinner organized by the Football Association of Singapore.
When asked if he would volunteer for such events again, he said: “The experience, the time, the relationships are all something that I would definitely look forward to and I think yes I will definitely do it all over again.”
Mr Logapreyan recounts more of his volunteer experiences in the audio slideshow below: 
View audio slideshow (requires Flash).
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