Volunteering is a rewarding and worthwhile experience

I orginally wrote the column below for the Salford Advertiser. Over the past few months, my Advertiser deliveries have been irregular – therefore I can’t be certain it was published.

A recent online poll on the Salford Advertiser’s website asked if the Government should plough more money into school sport to capitalise on Great Britain’s Olympic success. A resounding 78% thought that it should and I was one of those that voted with the majority. Money alone is not the sole reason for a successful Olympics; the Games would have been nothing without the thousands of volunteers who gave up their free time to make it an experience never to be forgotten.

All across Salford, every day of the week, ordinary people are volunteering to make sport a success for young and old alike. Be it the football coach who plans, organises and leads training sessions for our premier league stars of the future or the cycling enthusiast who puts together a bike ride around the local park for his friends, volunteers are just as much sporting heroes as Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton or Jessica Ennis.

The government has successful formal volunteering schemes such as the National Citizen Service, which rewards those who volunteer by providing activities such as rock climbing, rafting or trekking. But there is no rule that says volunteers must commit huge portions of their time to make a difference.

When I coached and managed a junior football team, it required a few hours each week of my time for training sessions and match days. I couldn’t have run the team without many other volunteers, who each spared a few minutes once a week setting up goalposts and corner flags, carrying equipment and bringing players to games.

Salford is an oasis for Sport, no matter what your interest – football, tennis, basketball, cricket, cycling and swimming are just a few of the activities you will find volunteers making happen safely and successfully every week. However, there is always a need for more volunteers and there is nothing better than that satisfying feeling knowing you have made a difference to the health and fitness of others. The personal development gained from volunteering is invaluable and as well as adding to your own fitness, you will learn new skills, such as the ability to lead teams, which many employers crave.

So contact your local sports club to see how you can help by volunteering just one hour a week or visit www.sportsmakers.co.uk where you will find the knowledge, information and connections to help you make sport happen in your neighbourhood.