Sports volunteers by Calum Graham
SOMETIMES we fail to appreciate the important role volunteers play in sport and how the impact of the work they do can change and enhance the lives of the individuals who take part.
There are many reasons to volunteer in sport. You may be giving back to a school or community who helped you when you were younger.
You may want to give opportunities to everyone to become involved in sport whether for health, participation or competition or you may be interested in developing the next generation of sporting stars.
Volunteering can take on the form of many roles and be very rewarding. You can meet new people and some say being involved in sport is like being part of an extended family.
Some volunteering opportunities need certain skills such as coaching which may need qualifications but clubs and local authorities will often provide or support you to find the right training.
Not only will the organisation benefit and be grateful for your support but volunteering can also offer new challenges and develop skills and qualities such as confidence, self-esteem, planning and organisation.
Volunteers are the heroes of sport. Without them, sport could not run the way it does and, for that reason, volunteers benefit from a number of award schemes and recognition from their organisations.
As well as being thanked informally for the time you dedicate, they can be formally recognised for their commitment and contribution through awards.
These include formal sports awards evenings recognising contributions or certificated awards acknowledging volunteer hours.
In recent years there has been a marked increase in the success of individuals or teams from the Langholm and Canonbie School Cluster.
One volunteer, who has regularly helped with athletics and gymnastics’ teams is Sarah Blaikie of Langholm.
Asked why she got involved with volunteering with sport at school, she said: “I initially got involved to offer an after-school sports club with the Muckle Toon Joggers.
“We were able to support the school and encourage children to keep fit and active through running activities.”
She added: “I enjoyed volunteering because I felt part of the school community and it was great to see children get the chance to try a variety of sports.
“My daughter was often at these sessions which meant she could see me taking an interest in what she was doing.
“It was also very rewarding to see children succeed and knowing I played a helping hand in that. Parents are a great resource to schools.”
Schools have been particularly successful in athletics, gymnastics, netball and rugby with volunteers at the heart of that.
The primary school Sports hall Athletics’ team which was runner-up in the national finals in 2019 progressed on to win the secondary schools’ equivalent event in February this year.
When the schools return, five of those young athletes will volunteer as junior sports leaders every week. As role models, they will encourage and support the next generation of athletes in the primary schools.
There is always room for more volunteers to get involved in extracurricular programmes and offer sporting activities whether for fun or to compete.
Individuals, who would like to get involved, would benefit from a rewarding experience, have the chance to support school sport teams and receive training and support, including safeguarding and protecting children, first-aid and coaching qualifications.
This may also open up opportunities for employment in coaching and event support.
For a coach or volunteer in sport, there is no other feeling quite like helping young athletes develop their natural persistence, determination, discipline, dedication, resiliency, work ethic, leadership skills and connection with and respect for others.
Volunteers can help transform the lives of disaffected and disadvantaged children from all backgrounds and involvement in sport can help raise ambition and attainment and offer improved life chances.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of sport and sport will give back to you in so many ways.
Anyone interested in volunteering at Langholm or Canonbie schools can contact Calum Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org