The Real Value of Volunteers

Date: 25th June 2016

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In case you missed it, it was Volunteers Week in Scotland at the beginning of June. Don’t worry if you did because I shall put a penny to a pound of mince most folk did. In fact if anyone within football was caught out and is currently sitting at home with their hands on their head thinking Oh God how did I miss it? I shall faint.

We don’t get notices of what weeks are special for what groups as much as we used to since austerity and massive cuts to large umbrella organisations but weeks like these can be very valuable to the people who give their free time to organisations to help out. Thing is, football can sometimes take their eyes off the ball and think themselves special – not always in a good way…

During that week the football academy with which I spend some time volunteering and working for had their volunteers recognised at a special ceremony at the local Town Hall. It was an opportunity to value the roles that these very special people had spent in making the Academy a success and ensuring that our wee club had a conveyer belt of players available for use by the manager. The volunteers are not just front line coaches but guys who help in the administration of the game and the smooth running of all we hold dear in our community club.

It was a ceremony where the Academy had more volunteers present than any other organisation. It led me to wonder how many clubs in Scotland depend on volunteers to run them; the fact is most. Apart from the “elite” clubs in Scotland running at losses that need to be managed, most well run clubs accept and encourage a volunteering ethos. My own club has even just put up an advert for 50 volunteers to come and help with repairs to the stadium during the close season – how good is that? How desperate is it?

The fact is that without massive investment being available in football the role of a volunteer in keeping the game alive, from boys clubs (and girls clubs) right through to senior level we are not in a very good place. As the 50 volunteers turn up to help out at our wee stadium, there shall be similar armies of volunteers with the requisite skill bases to help make terraces more pleasant for the punters. As the plumbers, electricians and general trades people are asked to help out often the accountants, lawyers and more cerebrally skilled people (not always so bright though…) shall probably not be asked to volunteer and shall be left standing in the stands shaking their heads thinking, if only they asked me. I would encourage all who shake their heads to offer – and believe me it is not always a refusal that follows. Without volunteers this game will not thrive. The game needs them and we need to put ourselves up for it. Are you up for it?


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