Volunteering in sport

By Sandra Hillyard, Volunteer Services Manager, Sported

Sandra HillyardHaving spent the last 15 years volunteering and working with volunteers I am delighted that the annual ‘Volunteers’ Week’ is here once again.


This year the ‘week’ has been extended to last 12 days- a little longer than normal and providing even more time to thank the volunteers across the UK who make such a difference in our communities through sport.


There is a great deal to celebrate. The UK is creating a culture of volunteering from inclusion in major events- London 2012’s Games Makers, Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games ‘Clyde-siders’ and more recently the 2015 Rugby World Cup volunteers to grassroots sport.


At Sported we engage with over 250 of our own skilled volunteers and 73% of our 3000+  Sported members are entirely run by volunteers.


Within sport, volunteers undertake a wide variety of tasks, from coaching the team and keeping the books, to washing the kit, chairing the committee to ensuring the smooth running of activities. In fact many people providing their time for free don’t even recognise their activities as volunteering.


For any organisation that relies on volunteers, there are of course challenges. Many of the key issues effectively fit into three main areas:


Recruitment – finding and engaging suitable volunteers.


Support and Management – supporting volunteers appropriately in their role.


Retention encouraging and maintaining volunteer engagement.


Understanding the motivation of volunteers can be key in addressing each of these areas. According to recent sport specific research the most common motivational factor is ‘Wanting to improve things or help people’ with 60% of those surveyed citing this.


Interestingly the desire to use existing skills (32%) and wanting to meet new people (30%) all made it into the top five [Source: Sport England: Towards an Active Nation].


There are of course other aspects that require more attention, including the diversity of volunteers in sport and how we value and encourage more females, people from BME and LGBT communities. It’s vitally important as increasing participation amongst under-represented groups is a key objective for all four home nations’ respective sport councils. It’s been proven time and again, that people – young and old – are more likely to engage with sports when they can personally relate to the person/people delivering it. Therefore, engage more diversified volunteers and you’ll naturally engage more diversified participants. A win-win situation!


Volunteers in sport do a great deal more than simply enable activities to happen.


They bring skills and knowledge, provide positive role models and leadership and have the power to change lives through sport.


We are always looking for skilled and passionate professional to join Sported’s volunteer team, so if you are interested in finding out more, please click here. For information about other sport volunteering opportunities in your local area, please visit Join-in.


At Sported we will be thanking and celebrating our volunteers, and our member’s volunteers this week, what will you be doing?


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