Helen Seamer, a volunteer with Join In, has been working very closely with the Kent FA supporting their campaign to thank their volunteers and to encourage new volunteers to get involved. Helen met with some of the inspiring young people involved in football in Kent and has written a blog to share her experience and inspire others.
As the football season draws to a close, you might be forgiven for thinking that the people who help to run the sport will take a well-earned break. But planning never stops and there is much to be done in the off-season to prepare for the next season’s fixtures and leagues.
Grassroots sport depends upon a huge army of volunteers and football is no exception. In England, it is estimated that there are 400,000 volunteers helping to run 37,000 clubs (source: theFA.com). Without their dedication and commitment to the sport, these clubs would simply not exist.
Around 10,000 people volunteer in football in Kent alone; a nice round number to consider their monetary worth. On average, people give 3.15 hours per week (source: KentFA), multiply that by the 10,000 volunteers, then by the national minimum wage of £7.50 for 44 weeks of the year and the total comes to a mighty £10,395,000. This is just in one county too! Safe to say, football is not just about the action on the pitch.
In a bid to boost their volunteer base, Kent FA enlisted the help of the Kent FA Youth Council to address the imbalance of younger volunteers in the sport. According to Lee Suter, Kent FA Football Development Officer and Volunteer Coach, the youngsters were excited to be involved in and lead the project.
“They were brimming with ideas to create a successful campaign. Taking inspiration from the Join in and BBC Get Inspired #BigThankYou campaign we decided that we could adapt the idea to a county wide project.” The result is #KentFAThanksU a celebration of the county’s most dedicated and inspiring volunteers. The project is a comprehensive social media and website campaign running for two weeks and includes 10 surprise presentations to Kent FA’s most valued volunteers.
“We are really proud to have some excellent young people helping to bring on the next generation of footballers and very happy to support them in their efforts to become the best that they can be. But we need many more!”
Clubs can often identify great potential volunteers in their younger players. Faversham Strike Force is one such club to invite two young players, Beth Dunkin (16) and Tyler Griffiths (15), to help with the younger teams.
Tyler has taken on the role of coaching the under 6 Mini Bolts team with great results. His enthusiasm for the game is infectious and the players see him as a role model. He is passionate about helping others and has willingly taken part in courses and workshops to further his knowledge. Tyler makes his sessions fun with an emphasis on the children developing a love for football. Participation has grown since he started coaching and the club are thrilled with his progress. Read more about Tyler’s story here.
Beth was also invited to assist the coaching team as she is a promising young player. “I was so happy being offered this chance as I am going into an apprenticeship in the sport industry” said Beth. “I love to see the improvement in the children’s abilities and confidence, which makes me proud that I am helping to achieve this. Volunteering involves coaching, refereeing or playing the game – which is having a huge impact on my free time. But I have been given so many opportunities and I am learning different skills which benefit me as a person. I have gained confidence and the skills will benefit me in the future and will enhance my CV. But the real reason I am doing it is because I enjoy it!”
Beth recommends volunteering to young people in any sport as a means of gaining skills, boosting confidence and enhancing employment prospects. “Volunteering at a local sports club is the right path to go down. I would like to say a big #KentFAThanksU to Faversham Strike Force for giving me this chance.”
If you would like to get involved with volunteering at your local sports club you can search for opportunities in your area here
If you live in Kent, you can get involved on social media by thanking a football volunteer at your local club using the hashtag #KentFAThanksU