Maybe as you pick up this magazine and flip through these pages, you’re on your way to watch The World Games.
The games are being held July 7 through 17 here in our state — in Birmingham. And, if you happen to pick this magazine up after the games are over, then I hope you enjoy reading about the event that just took place in our state — bringing in “out-of-towners”, tourism dollars and national/global attention.
Opelika resident Raven Harvis will serve as an ambassador for the games, representing this area on a worldwide stage.
“I was extremely excited [to be accepted as an ambassador] because I knew what this meant for the state of Alabama to have an event like this,” Harvis said. “It’s a version of the Olympics. It’s international. It’s an opportunity for me to represent East Alabama, Opelika, in a way that doesn’t come around very often.”
Harvis applied and was accepted and will serve as a hospitality liaison.
“The World Games 2022 will bring visitors from around the globe to Birmingham and we want to be certain that they are shown the best that our city and state has to offer,” said Harvis’ ambassador acceptance letter from Kathy Boswell, vice president of Community Engagement.
As the hospitality liaison, Harvis and the other ambassadors will welcome guests, host a reception, publicize the games and have been involved in planning the opening ceremony.
“I’m not sure if when people think about the World Games, if they think about the city of Opelika,” Harvis said. “But we are also, you know, Opelika was founded as a transportation hub. So many people came in, out and through Opelika when it first was founded.
“I think that’s a part of our culture here is to be welcoming and to be inviting to people, and that’s how I feel like me bringing the Opelika charm to the games, small town charm to the games is able to provide a warmer presence than maybe large-city ambassadors could provide.”
The games encompass well-known sports, like softball or lacrosse, but also lesser-known events like dancesport, sumo, powerlifting, drone racing, canopy piloting, compound archery, wheelchair rugby, roller derby and more.
“This is, first of all, multiple sports, multiple disciplines, multiple things going on that you cannot see on an everyday sporting arena,” Harvis said. “So, this is for those, I would say, [sports like sumo wrestling] that we all love and appreciate watching but we never get an opportunity to see how that platform is created.”
The games still have tickets available too (as of press time, at least) and Harvis encouraged local East Alabama people to make the drive to Birmingham.
Tickets are available, along with other information about the games, at the World Games website: twg2022.com.
“These are not events that you can see every day,” Harvis said. “This is a worldwide opportunity and the next World Games could be somewhere like Brazil or somewhere that’s not so close in our backyard. So while it’s in our backyard and only two hours away from where we live, I would encourage people to go and visit it and have a
memorable experience for them and their family.”