They are the “spine” of grassroots rugby clubs throughout the UK. Tea makers, kit washers, form fillers, first aiders, managers, coaches.... basically, there’s too many to mention.
Many of those volunteers take on more than 1 role; why is that? There's an old saying, “ask a busy person if you want to get something done,” and it’s that quote which makes me lean towards an answer.
Rugby clubs are crying out for volunteers. At the start of every season, we seek out the new members as possible candidates to help volunteer. We look for the faces that look kind, and that might not say no. We put out requests for help on club notice boards, social media etc.
But, we are, sadly, not inundated with responses.
People’s lives are busy, that I get. With many families having to juggle work life alongside kid’s weekend activities, or maybe having to split to get 1 child to rugby, and 1 to ballet (or any other sport), volunteers don’t tend to come forward as willingly as they used to a few years back.
And here we are, in the 21st century, with the emphasis on sports now more important than it has ever been, and those that already volunteer are spread so thinly, they are struggling to cope with the workload.
Clubs needs helpers, and there are roles for everyone. Even if you can spare just 1 hour per week, to carry out a “takeaway” job; one that can be done at home on a dull Tuesday evening, when the kids are quiet and doing their homework… it’s easy to carve up the roles, and find something that suits.
The RFU states that while the benefits of volunteering are specific to each individual, the inclusive environment of a community rugby club is a very rewarding place to be for people with different skill sets. Thus, there is no reason why your voluntary role cannot be added to your CV – it’s certainly a valuable addition.
The thing is, these unsung heroes, without realising it, do more than just their role.
They are unaware that they keep the passion of the sport alive for so many. When the changing rooms receive that much-needed coat of paint, the kids are thrilled, and proud of those freshly painted club colours that adorn their changing area.
It’s the small things that count, but it makes being a part of the community so much better, when those unsung heroes are recognised.
So, well done to the RFU for stepping up with its recent Volunteer Awards scheme. No one wants a fuss, no one wants their name in lights, but more importantly, no one does it for that.
They do it because they know it’s required, and we are quintessentially British in that we will help others out when we can see it needs doing.
The rolling up of the sleeves, with endless supplies of tea, and a good team around you to get the job done. And, how better to repay those volunteers, then a lovely surprise at the end of season awards night, when their name is read out, and is applauded by fellow club members, as they stand and appreciate the “unsung heroes” of their club.
We want to hear about your clubs unsung heroes - so please, get in touch with their story and email email@example.com.