On the afternoon of Saturday, April 27, at the National Boccia Open at the Maurice-Richard Arena, several volunteers were hard at work ensuring everything ran smoothly. Among them, volunteers returning for the 2nd, 3rd, or even 10th time rubbed shoulders with first-time Défi Sportif AlterGo and boccia volunteers.

 

A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR NINON

At the athletes’ registration table, Ninon Pelletier raves about her first volunteer experience at the Défi Sportif AlterGo. “I love it! It started out very well, with a training session on how to interact with people with functional limitations.” She found the training very interesting, and perfect for helping her ease into her role. And now that the competitions have begun, Ninon feels very well supported. “There’s always help available. There’s always someone around who can answer our questions.”

Ninon enjoys interacting with people with functional limitations. As a physiotherapist, she has done so in the past, notably during her studies in Chicoutimi. She is therefore greatly enjoying her experience here, both as a timekeeper and as a greeter for the athletes.

“I love it, truly. I feel useful. I found out that some of the volunteers have been doing this for more than 20 years, and that’s because it’s truly enjoyable.”

So why did Ninon decide to become a Défi Sportif AlterGo volunteer this year in particular?

Well, it’s to familiarize herself with boccia, after having been accepted as a volunteer in the sport for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games with her sister France.

 

FRANCE, THE BOCCIA FAN

As for France, she discovered boccia when she first volunteered at the Défi Sportif AlterGo in 2014. She had been assigned to work in the cafeteria at the Maurice-Richard Arena, where the boccia competitions were taking place, and she watched some games while she was there. She found the sport fascinating, so she decided to become involved in it as a volunteer.

A few years later, she returned [to the Défi] as a volunteer, this time for boccia. She even served as a referee for three years. And although nowadays she no longer officiates the games, she still occupies technical roles in the call room or as a line judge.

For a long time, France has dreamed of volunteering at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, but with children, a job, and vacations, it never seemed to work out. This year, however, she was finally able to apply. And Ninon decided to join her.

 

OFF TO THE PARALYMPIC GAMES

Being accepted as a volunteer at the Olympics or the Paralympics is a pretty big deal. Out of close to 300,000 applicants, only 45,000 are chosen. Which is why France described all her experience with boccia on her application form. And it worked! Both sisters were accepted.

Ninon is therefore taking advantage of her role as a volunteer at the Défi Sportif AlterGo to familiarize herself with boccia. And she can’t wait to go to Paris.

“It’s all still a bit mysterious, but they’re very well-organized. We’re starting to receive planning emails describing our tasks and schedules. We’re very excited.”

In the meantime, she’s enjoying her experience as a boccia volunteer at the Défi Sportif AlterGo.

“[The Paralympic Games] are the reason I’m here, but I’m enjoying myself so much that after the Games, I expect to be back [at the Défi Sportif AlterGo] in the future.”

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