events & legacy

Lillehammer 2016: Inspiring the next generation of volunteers

Feb 18, 2016

“A glance at the Lillehammer 2016 Young Leaders Programme” – The Young Leaders Programme is a legacy project developed by the Lillehammer 2016 Organizing Committee. With young individuals aged 15-19 as the target, this programme has both short and long-term objectives.
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Train and prepare participants to hold leadership roles within the volunteer crew at Lillehammer 2016.


Inspire them to continue volunteering after the Games and empower them to take on leadership roles within sports clubs. The objective is to replenish the existing network of trained volunteers that have event experience with new, youthful and enthused personnel. It is hoped that participants also influence their peers and motivate other young people to volunteer along with them.

The programme started in April 2014; about two years prior to the Games. In total, 220 young individuals participated in the programme.

It involved a range of stakeholders including the Norwegian Olympic Committee, national federations, the regional sport administration, sports clubs and a local bank sponsor.

How does the Young Leaders Programme work?

The project is split into four different phases:
  1. Prep courses – a series of courses in which participants familiarize themselves with the international sports world and which prepared them to take more responsibilities within their clubs. Taught by experts in the field, participants learned about the Olympic environment as well as the International and National (Norwegian) Sport Federations framework. They also learned about teambuilding, self-confidence, communication, value-based leadership, youth participation, communication, coaching and leadership tools.
  2. Assignments in local sports clubs – to get the most of what they learned during the prep courses, participants were given specific tasks and roles to be active as leaders, trainers, coaches, judges/referees or administrators within their local clubs.
  1. Volunteering for Lillehammer 2016 – during two weeks, participants had the opportunity to capitalise on their experience as a trained volunteer. They were able to take away the wealth of knowledge and amazing experience they received. The objective was to transition into positions of responsibility at their local sports clubs.
  2. After the Games legacy – Follow up sessions will be put in place to ensure that participants remain active and have found ways to engage with sport as a volunteer in their sport communities. The programme will be considered successful should a young participants continue volunteering after the Games.

Following each weekend gatherings, participants were asked to complete a feedback form. This helped organisers to track participation as well as evaluate the usefulness of the courses given. The organising committee also intends to conduct a widespread evaluation from all participants one year after the hosting of the Games to measure the programme impacts.

What were the key challenges and what are the lessons learned?

Two main challenges have been identified:
  • Communication issues – at the early stage of the programme, communication between the organisers and participants proved to be quite challenging. Participants were not responsive and getting feedback was abnormally long. As such, the organising team decided to be active on social media platform and created a closed Facebook group. This group was also used as a way to keep participants engaged by asking them to post photos and stories of how they are assisting in their communities. This format had a great success and kept the interaction strong between participants throughout the duration of the programme.
  • Change management issues – through the integration of young volunteers into their sports clubs – A number of participants faced challenges when they decided to volunteer in the various local clubs in their communities. They were not given much responsibility and were perceived in some cases as a threat because they had new ideas and fresh enthusiasm. Some sport clubs managers lacked the required maturity to relate to the young leaders and to find creative ways to use their skills and energy to their club’s advantage. In a sense, there was a disconnection between the adults and the young people who offered their services to the clubs. To tackle this, the organisers got in touch with the sports clubs and offered them guidance on how best to maximise the young participants’ willingness to help.


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