THE YORKSHIRE TEAM: ASIM BUTT
“When it was discussed with me whether I wanted to volunteer, I said ‘yeah, I’ll do the full two weeks. I’ll take two weeks out of my holidays to do this.’ That’s how much I want this to be a success story, for my sport and more importantly for Yorkshire as I think it’s really important that we give the right image to the world.”
Every volunteer that helps to make up the Yorkshire Team has their own special reason for doing so; during our last interview, Rachel Moyes stated it was her love and adoration for all things volunteering and how it had positively impacted her life.
For Asim Butt, it’s that he loves cycling, he loves Yorkshire and he wants to help ensure that this is one of the best events ever hosted; it is being held in God’s Own County after all.
“I wanted to get involved with volunteering for the UCI Road World Championships because it’s a sport that is being promoted that I really do like and I love Yorkshire.”
Originally from Uganda, West Africa, Asim has fully bought into Yorkshire and the fact that the volunteers are sponsored by one of his favourite brands will be music to his ears.
“I’ve been a Yorkshireman for 46 years, I came here as a 12-year-old and I’m a Yorkshireman through and through you know? I have Yorkshire Tea bags and nothing else will do!”
As with many people, Asim’s favourite thing about the county is the people. That’s exactly why volunteering is such an integral part of any major event, the welcoming approach really sets apart any event in the county and is a reason why mass sporting events keep flooding to the county.
“I wanted to promote Yorkshire and the people of Yorkshire. To the public that are going to be coming in in droves from all over the world, I want to put it out there to let people know, the Yorkshire people are friendly, they are part of a community, they stick together, they’re helpful, they’re kind, patient and will go out of their way to make people’s lives much easier.”
Cycling and Yorkshire go hand in hand and Asim believes this is purely down to one common factor, the community spirit that both share.
“I really believe in the spirit of a community and I love the spirit of Yorkshire itself, what I particularly like about the sport in general is that the cycling community is wonderful no matter where you go in the world. You just gel and connect right away because you have something in common… I think the professional riders see the warmth and friendliness and the way we embrace the sport in a massive way and that’s why they love coming back here.”
Cycling is something that Asim has really taken to and has been riding since he was a child, although it was recent events in Yorkshire that really opened his eyes to just how much Yorkshire has embraced the sport and put itself on the world map for cycling aficionados worldwide.
“Cycling as a sport is something I participate in regularly, I go riding throughout the week, at weekends, I have friends I go riding with too. I still think back to 2014 a lot, when the Tour de France came here, we couldn’t even get to the start line it was that busy. How we got it, I don’t know, and I don’t care! I rode one of the stages a few weeks later and I could see names on the road, Nibali, Froome and it was really freaking me out – I couldn’t believe it and it was a surreal, emotional moment for me and many others I’m sure.”
Volunteering has been a big part of Asim’s life and he openly admits he has based a lot of aspects of his life around sport, he’s often wanted to get involved in volunteering with cycling but hasn’t found the right opportunity, until the Yorkshire Team came along.
“I’ve not volunteered in cycling, but I’ve done tennis tournaments, CrossFit gym judging, refereeing football matches, kid’s matches, table tennis when I was at school, so I mean I’ve gone out of my way to support sport in whatever way I can and this is my first opportunity that I’ve had to do for cycling and I’m really forward to it!”
After taking two weeks of his annual leave from work to join the Yorkshire Team for the full nine days of racing, Asim is keen to make sure he does everything he can to make the event a success, for his sport and for his home county and he looks forward to welcoming visitors in September and beyond.
“I’d really like everything to work smoothly, to go slick, that we don’t any unfortunate incidents, I just want people to be happy, enjoy the moment and to take away happy memories and I’d love tourists to come and say ‘we were in Yorkshire and the people were just absolutely brilliant, they couldn’t do enough for us and I’m going to come back next year, just as a tourist to see the rest of Yorkshire.’
For more information about The Yorkshire Team, head here.