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Roughy Toughy ...
Roughy Toughy
Alby Atkinson, a 6ft 2in rugby-league playing New Zealander, is Stockport MBC's Commonwealth Games 2002 programme co-ordinator, with the job of pulling together the borough's initiatives when the games, hosted by Manchester, hit next year.
His appointment arises from the campaign by Stockport MBC and its partners in the Stockport Economic Alliance, to bring lasting benefits from the games to the borough, socially, culturally and economically. They needed someone to pull it all together, he applied and was appointed on a two year contract.
'Stockport is on the doorstep of one of the largest ever multi-sports events, and we want the borough's schools, businesses and community to get the most out of it,' he says.
'We have a great bunch of people here, with a council working group representing the various departments. For me it's a matter of going out and networking, meeting people and helping to bring partners together. People voted through the local paper to 'adopt' and establish friendship links with Malaysia for the games.'
Mr Atkinson was in the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 12 years - he's 30 now - and played rugby league for the Air Force, representing New Zealand at Junior Kiwi level, and Western Samoa, where his mother comes from, at the South Pacific Cup.
'I have eight coaching certificates and was a physical training instructor. A lot of the work was in the gymnasium, but there was teaching air crew survival in the sea, bush, desert and jungle. My existing job is in complete contrast, but definitely worthwhile. The Games are going to be huge and the council is doing its best to inform the community on what is going on.'
Living with his girlfriend, Jane, in the Peak district, he is still struggling with the local language and they tend to think he is Australian. 'That really fires me up,' he says.
There is a countdown clock on their website and there are only 375 days to go. Exciting.
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