Volunteering myths debunked
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Seven sports volunteering myths debunked

It's an annual celebration of the vital contribution volunteers make every single day.

As we mark Volunteers' Week 2017, we shatter the many misconceptions about volunteers in sport. 

"The difference between a volunteer and a paid member of the team is like baking a cake or getting one from the supermarket  - when it’s home-made you absolutely know what’s in there, and what has gone into making it,” says Julia Jones from Severn Trampoline Gymnastics Club, Shrewsbury.

Although millions of people volunteer week in, week out, certain myths still remain that are preventing people from getting involved at their local sports club.

Check out seven of the most common myths below – and our attempt to debunk them with a little help from those in the know.

Myth 1

You need to be good at the sport or have a technical knowledge of it.

“My son’s coach came up to me at the end of the training session and asked whether I could help him take some lap times at next week’s training session.  My immediate thought was, I have never used a stopwatch in my life! My PE teacher in school wrote on my report, Jayne has many talents, sport is not one of them.

Nevertheless, determined to support my son, the next training session came along and I there I was standing at the side of track, in my full work attire, with my loaned stopwatch cheering on the training group. Fast forward a few years and I am now a qualified athletics coach, leading my own training group and thoroughly enjoying every training session. Not bad for a non-sporty girl!”

Jayne, Nuneaton Harriers.

England Athletics has recently launched its new volunteer section. Check out the video showing the range of volunteer opportunities available for everyone, ranging from making the tea to measuring the long jump to Chairperson.

Myth 2

You need to be a member of the club to volunteer at the club – and sport is cliquey.

“Volunteering takes place in a lot of different settings, and not all clubs have members as such – event, technical and administrative volunteering are all critical to sport being able to happen, to grow and to enable more people to take part.”

Geoff Grant, Volunteer Support & Development Manager, British Gymnastics

Myth 3

You needs loads of time. Once you start volunteering there is pressure to carry on.

“Some roles need a lot of time. Many do not. If the organization identifies short term projects then they can promote and fill these. The time constraints should always be known and communicated. Those who help out with only the smallest of tasks are volunteers and should be recognized as such. It is better to have 10 people carrying out a small task each, than one person doing the lot.”

Graham Hughes, County and Club volunteer (North Mids)

Myth 4

You have to have loads of experience.

“Not at all! Everyone has to start somewhere, and often a fresh perspective on things without the politics of having been involved for a long time helps to look at things in a new way and start to make changes.”

Jenny Box, Volunteer Engagement Manager, Rugby Football Union

Myth 5

Young people may do it for their CV but really aren’t that interested.

"Young people are just as passionate about getting involved and making a difference at their cricket club as anybody else. Each year there are hundreds of young people who receive recognition  through the vCricket programme for contribution which they make throughout cricket.

Last year one young player, Alice Green from Old Chelmsfordians CC, volunteered over 675 hours supporting her club and district teams while still completing her college course!"

Richard Lightbrown, Volunteer and Participation Manager, England and Wales Cricket Board

Myth 6

People only volunteer when they’re too old to play anymore. None of my friends do it, they'll think I'm weird.

“In Gymnastics, we have over 3,000 volunteers involved in our Leadership Academy programme, aimed at those under the age of 16. This shows there is an interest and need for younger volunteers as well as those who have spent time in the sport and gained experience. By having younger volunteers, it gives them an opportunity to be a part of various areas in the club and sport to continue their involvement and participation interest.”

Chris Hughes, Volunteer Co-ordinator at British Gymnastics

Myth 7

It’s hard to find a volunteering role.

We have a whole raft of volunteering opportunities on this website, while Join In is a great source for people who want to help out at their local club. It couldn't be simpler: just type in your postcode and give the club or event organiser a bell. You'll be serving up orange slices at half-time before you know it...