Team Liaison Officer: A Unique Canada Sevens Experience

For most, Canada Sevens is an epic weekend spent with groups of friends, crazy costumes and endless food and drinks, but for 24 special volunteers, being a part of Canada Sevens means something entirely different. Team Liaison Officers, or TLO for short, are hired by Canada Sevens on a volunteer basis to become a key part of the event’s success. Each team on the series is paired with two TLOs who serve as the information source, the protocol officer, organizational navigator, tour guide, training scheduler, interpreter, and translator. They take team’s to training, to see the sights around Vancouver and ensure their experience at Canada Sevens is unmatched. Sure, those are their assigned duties but TLOs are so much more to teams than you could ever possibly imagine. The time spent over 7 days allows TLOs to build everlasting relationships with their team – some returning year after year, greeting the players with arms wide open and ear-to-ear grins.

We spoke to one of our long time TLOs, Owen Chan, who has worked with team Samoa since Canada Sevens’ first year. Throughout the last 3 years he has built a strong relationship with players, management and coaches – one that has changed his life in many unexpected ways.

Owen Chan pictured in the middle of team Samoa as they depart Vancouver post Canada Sevens
1. What made you interested in applying to be a TLO with Canada Sevens?

I have always been interested in rugby and I used to play rugby in high school.. I have been following the HSBC Sevens for more than ten years. When Vancouver was awarded to host the Sevens, I signed up to volunteer because it was my way of serving as a Canadian and also my way of giving back to the country I am originally from “Samoa.”

2.  What turned out to be the biggest surprise/reward of the role? 

The biggest reward is meeting Samoa Rugby Sevens head coach, Sir Gordon Tietjen (IRB Hall of Fame) and working so closely with him and seeing his passion, knowledge and expertise for the game. Biggest surprise is how a special brotherly bond with the entire team can be found in such a short time.

3.  What made you want to come back for a third year? 

I wanted to come back for the third year because I enjoy the camaraderie and the friendship shared with the entire team starting from the coach, to the management and to the entire team. Also, there’s the ongoing tennis match with Coach Tietjen that I have to uphold.

4.  Describe your experience working with team Samoa and how you’ve connected/built a relationship with them during your time as a TLO?

When I signed up for the TLO, I was expecting to play a supporting role like a go to person but it turned out to be so much more. I was not only involved with the everyday tasks, I was also very much hands on in helping the player get ready for the game. I also had the opportunity to assist and stand in during their field training.

5. Can you tell us about a favourite moment you’ve had being a TLO?

My favourite moment as a TLO was at the last day as we say our goodbyes, the coach with the whole team presented me with a team jersey and sang a Samoan farewell song. They expressed such sincere gratitude and I felt my work was very much appreciated.

6. Has being a key part of the tournament and the team experience impacted your life in any other ways?

The discipline, the rigid training, the determination and the hard work all the members put in to have the best outcome is an encouragement for me to have that attitude in all aspects of my life be it work or play.

7. What would your words of advice be for someone who is thinking about applying to be a TLO but isn’t sure if it’s for them?

Being a TLO is a great way to experience the Rugby Sevens tournament not only as a spectator of the game but also seeing the behind the scene and logistics that goes along with organizing such a big tournament. It is a great way to meet people and establish friendships that lasts forever.

If you are interested in building valuable relationships with players, coaches and management, gaining volunteer experience, and being a key part of the Canada Sevens team, we are currently looking for TLOs to be part of the Canada Women’s Sevens Tournament in Langford, BC May 12-13, 2018. Find more information on the role and how to apply here.