Every country team participates in a Welcome Ceremony in the Athletes Village, and Mozambique had theirs yesterday. They shared it with Cyprus, Malaysia and Niue, so neatly representing four of the regions of the Commonwealth.
Gathering the team was easier than I thought – I am now the expert in standing with the Mozambique flag ‘lollipop’, and everyone came to me. Inevitably, in the time spent waiting, there were myriad photo opportunities, both official and more casual, and of course the lollipop was a popular addition to many group shots.
The teams were welcomed by a cast from the National Youth Theatre performing a short musical about the fun and anticipation of going to a festival; such energy and talent. And they appeared to be able to erect a tent with only one hand and a flick of the wrist!
There was then a speech from the Village Chieftain and a representative of each team was invited up to exchange a gift with a person from the region in Scotland with which it had been twinned. The flag of the country was raised and the national anthem played. There was extra poignancy and emotion for the Malaysian part of the ceremony which included a moments silence, and their flag was raised to only half mast to acknowledge the terrible tragedy which befell one of the their airliners.
Then there was more singing and dancing from the Youth Theatre before they led us all back into the residential area of the Village for more photographs and smiling.
It was my first opportunity to meet any of the Mozambique athletes, which was a treat. They are all so young and thrilled to be at an international competition, and focussed on achieving a personal best while they are here. They all wanted to know what the Opening Ceremony will be like, but I was true to my promise and didn’t spoil any of the surprises; even if the swimmers won’t actually be able to participate as they have competitions from early Thursday morning, and so have to go to bed early.
I hope you’re able to watch the Ceremony tonight – spare a moment’s thought for me standing outside Celtic Park, tantalisingly close, able to hear the noise, but not close enough to see the show, and give a little cheer for my team when they parade.