Kalli Volunteers For Olympics

Date Published: 
London Evening Standard
Matthew Beard

CARIBBEAN cricket great Alvin Kallicharran has signed up to become a volunteer at the London Olympics - and urged others to follow suit.

The former West Indies player, regarded as one of the world's finest batsmen during his pomp in the Seventies, has registered to join Boris Johnson's army of 8,000 Olympic tour guides, to be known as "London Ambassadors". Since the scheme opened in July, it has attracted more than 13,000 applications but the Mayor wants 25,000 to sign up before the deadline on December 31.

Among those who have applied are a retired taxi driver who attended the 1948 London Olympics and a paralympic middle-distance champion from New Zealand. But already Kallicharran, 61, who lives in west London, has become the poster-boy of the recruitment campaign.

He said: "I have travelled the world playing cricket. I know how important it is when you arrive in a foreign country to be greeted by friendly, well-informed and helpful local people. It's this experience I'd like to bring to the Olympics."

Born in Guyana, Kallicharran was an elegant left-handed batsman who led an unofficial rebel tour to South Africa during the apartheid era. His lifelong interest in track and field was reignited when he moved to Britain just ahead of a golden era for athletics. He counts Steve Cram and London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe among his sporting idols.

A British resident for nearly 40 years, Kallicharran first lived in Birmingham, where he played county cricket for Warwickshire, before moving to London where he now lives in Greenford with his wife Patsy, who has also applied to be a volunteer.

He added: "It's nice to contribute something because this country has been good to me. I feel very much a Londoner and when something big happens like the Olympics you want to share in the excitement."

Those chosen to be "ambassadors" will act as guides at information points at railway stations, airports and tourist attractions. They will complement the 70,000 volunteers at the sports events.