Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Volunteer Support Aides a Fantastic April

"I would absolutely recommend volunteering to others. Clubs can only continue to progress for the benefit of the swimmers if they have good volunteers." Ronnie Girvan, Volunteer with Cumbernauld ASC

To say the month of April was busy for Scottish Swimming is an understatement. With two Scottish Gas National Championships, a Commonwealth Water Polo Championships, two British Swimming Championships, a Regional Training Week and a number of local club meets and training courses, the last 30 days have flown by.

While all of the above have been deemed a great success none of it would have been possible without the continued support and dedication of a very loyal army of volunteers from across Scotland who commit their time tirelessly week in week out throughout the year.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of a club and make a huge contribution to aquatics in Scotland by running clubs and events. There are currently 160 affiliated clubs and approximately 3,000 volunteers across the country. Scottish Swimming recognises the importance of volunteers within aquatics, and acknowledges the need to increase the size and quality of the volunteer workforce.

So why volunteer?

Volunteering is a rewarding experience, benefiting both the clubs and the individual. It builds upon life skills, work skills, confidence and social aspects which can be seen to be benefits for the volunteer. But don’t just take our word for it.

There are many stories, like the one of Ronnie Girvan of Cumbernauld ASC, whose involvement as a volunteer goes back 17 years.

‘It started when my eldest daughter joined. Initially I was like any other parent on the balcony, but then a notice was put up asking for a volunteer to learn how to operate the electronics. I thought this might be interesting and so I volunteered. This led me into becoming a technical official. As the club progressed on to using new systems I took on the roles of being administrator of the club meets and the club membership database. I have also taken on the role of membership secretary and do all the membership returns to Scottish Swimming.’

Ronnie also became involved helping the club to develop a new website recently. His initial reason to volunteer was to give him something to do when the kids were swimming at meets, but over the years that reason has diminished as his kids gave up swimming.

‘Although both are still involved with the club in other capacities, I now volunteer because I enjoy the involvement and seeing the other kids’ progress. I would absolutely recommend volunteering to others. Clubs can only continue to progress for the benefit of the swimmers if they have good volunteers.’

Events like the Commonwealth Water Polo Championships, held over 8 days from 5 – 12 April in Aberdeen, hugely benefitted from many hours of work provided by volunteers. They covered areas like field of play management, event presentation, social media, team liaison and front of house management.

Volunteering is a great way for people being engaged with the sport in Scotland like Portobello’s Alan Anderson. As Head of Sports Presentation he brought his organisation, planning, management, communication and practical problem solving skills from his daytime job as IT consultant into the event:

‘I have had experience doing some roles in sports presentation beforehand, and deliver a good experience for the competition. Introducing and helping other volunteers who had not worked on such an event before was good fun. You can see the impact your action make to the event, it gives you great experience, not just of the competition, but the skills you could use for other types of events.’

Emma Bird (23), who studies Sports Science at Edinburgh University, helped out with different aspects of social media coverage during the event. Emma, an active water polo player with Edinburgh University, was keen to get involved from the moment she heard Scotland would be hosting the tournament:

‘Water Polo is such an exciting sport that will hopefully benefit from the exposure of this event, and I really wanted to be a part of the atmosphere and organisation. That I ended up helping to publicise the event was a bonus, as this is an area that I am really passionate about.’

Giving her an insight into the fast-paced nature of larger events the role helped her develop essential organisation and communication skills, and she would recommend volunteering to others:

‘If you enjoy working as part of a team, and have a passion for the event/sport that you’re working at then it will be an extremely rewarding experience. You’ll learn so much from the team around you, have a great time and also have a great impact on the event you’re working on that will ultimately make the sports we love better.’

Rob Tate (22), also of Edinburgh University, spent the whole week with his family at the event as Competition Manager, with his two sisters playing for Scotland, dad Mike driving the mini bus shuttle and mother Brenda managing the women’s team:

‘I volunteered because it was a fantastic opportunity to volunteer at a major international sporting event and get fully involved in all the action. Adjusting and re-evaluating plans to changing situations is hugely important when managing an event like this. I would definitely recommend volunteering, its fantastic fun and really valuable experience.’

The event also attracted volunteers from further afield. Ross Gregory (22) from Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, who has just finished University and works as Freelance Sport Journalist, took care of all match-reporting, social media updates and daily summary reports.

‘I decided to volunteer as I wanted to build up my experience in working in a fast-paced media operation. It taught me a lot about working as a team and felt great to see that I contributed a small part to the successful running of a great event. I would definitely recommend volunteering with Scottish Swimming as your work is really appreciated and you work with some great people.’

If you have any questions regarding volunteering, please contact your local Regional Swimming Development Manager.

In the meantime thank you all from Scottish Swimming.