Our funding for England Athletics' Team Spirit programme is building an attractive volunteering identity and community which is already making volunteers, both new and existing, feel more positive and proud of their contribution to our sport, no matter the time they’re able to give. Some of the young volunteers from Bracknell AC have shared their thoughts and experiences on volunteering with the club.
What has volunteering has meant for me, the benefits for young people, and what it means to give something back to BAC.
I did not know what to expect when I became a Game Changer but over the last year I have had the opportunity to take part in many amazing things that previously I had no clue about. This has enabled me to grow as a person and learn new skills which are transferable to so many other aspects of life and going forwards into my future. For me, I have found coaching at Bracknell AC to be so enriching and interesting. Coaching the young athletes has been really rewarding and has given me a chance to give back to my club. I can remember starting athletics when I was their age and it’s weird to think that I am now at the age where I can coach them and encourage them to continue in athletics and grow passionate about the sport. From this I have learnt and developed a wide range of skills for example, when coaching, it often doesn’t go quite as planned for many reasons but this has enabled me to become more adaptable and fast-thinking. I think that adaptability is such a great skill to learn and it is so relevant to many aspects of life where things don’t quite go as expected! Back in March I was also able to go to a leadership workshop in Birmingham where we discussed the qualities of a leader and how we can implement these into our daily lives and also if/when we lead events. Overall, being a Gamechanger has enabled me to meet new people throughout the year and develop valuable skills but the highlight is having the chance to coach the young athletes and create a fun, positive and safe atmosphere where they can try their best each session.
When it was announced that we had won the Spirit of 2012 award, I was so surprised as I really didn’t expect it. I think that receiving the award has further increased my motivation to continue volunteering and try more things. I have already now started to help at cross country races and soon I will be helping officiating at competitions so that I can become a qualified starter’s assistant. Over the past year I have loved the opportunities that being a Gamechanger has given me and I feel that I have grown and developed as a person... I would definitely recommend to anyone to try volunteering as not only do you help other people which in itself is rewarding, but also personally you gain so much – both big and small things, for example it could just give you the chance to meet new people. I also feel very grateful for being able to give my time back to Bracknell AC. I have been there for around 7 years and throughout my time so many people have given me so much and allowed me pursue my athletics and it is wonderful to repay my club and hopefully inspire the younger athletes to continue in athletics.
I have just started the game changer programme at Bracknell AC and so far am enjoying it a great deal. We have had a team social and planning sessions which have been great fun. Having been a member at Bracknell for years I wanted to give something back and develop my coaching skills for a future career in sport. As well as starting to coach, I have been an official at the Sportshall Athletics competition. It was great to see the other side of a competition that I had competed in for 6 years and be able to encourage the younger athletes. Later this year I will do my assistant coach course and also help run our Quad kids competitions.
What volunteering has meant to you, the benefits for young people and in particular what it means to give something back to BAC
Volunteering for me has become a massive part of my life thanks to the Game Changers scheme. Before I started on this programme I really had no idea how much it would take to, in a way, run your own mini athletics club. It has been so eye opening to see how much effort and organisation goes in for things to run smoothly and so due to the volunteering I have done, I am now much more aware of this. Along with this, it has really benefitted my skill set and enabled me to expand on these and even learn new ones. As a young person this is great as it shows I have determination, independence and commitment, which are qualities that help me stand out on any application forms that I need to write. I would not hesitate to recommend becoming a Game Changer to anyone, as it is beneficial in so many ways. Finally, the greatest sense of achievement came with the idea of how much I was giving back to my club. I have been a member of Bracknell Athletics Club for the last six years and on countless occasions they have helped me succeed and presented me with so many opportunities to better my running. As a result of this, I can now give back a little of my extra time to help develop more young athletes and reduce the massive club waiting list. I am thoroughly enjoying this programme and cannot wait to see what the New Year brings.
Winning the EA Spirit of 2012 award and your experience at the SE Awards and the Hall of Fame and what it meant to you
Finding out that Bracknell AC Gamer Changers had won the regional spirit of 2012 award really meant a lot. For the first time of being it really felt as though our achievements were being recognised and congratulated. As well as this, at the local awards it was so rewarding to see all of the other inspiring individuals who were making their own mark and winning awards. It was a very welcoming atmosphere and gave an amazing sense of community. Moving onto the national awards, the Hall of Fame left me speechless. It was one of the biggest awards ceremonies I have ever been too and to know I was in the room with some truly great names in athletics gave me a feeling that I cannot describe. The actual night was so elegant - adding to this everyone looked amazing and so to win and be given the chance to go on stage to be further recognised for our achievements was so motivating. Towards the end of the night we were also able to socialise with other athletes, coaches and volunteers in the room which for me topped everything off. Winning both awards has really given me the drive to carry on coaching in hopefully a more improved way than before. I also hope that other potential Game Changers are inspired by the two evenings and see that our efforts do not go unnoticed and meaning that it could be them on that stage one year.
What volunteering has meant for me, the benefits for young people, and what it means to give something back to BAC.
After being part of the club for nearly 7 years, I have tried to become as involved as I can at BAC. As an athlete myself I understand the immense amount of time and effort my coaches have put into me and other athletes, and without these coaches I would never have been able to achieve the things I have. Therefore, when I found out about an opportunity to give back to the club and work with new athletes, I knew I immediately wanted to be involved. Becoming a coaching assistant and helping coach new athletes has helped me develop so many individual skills and qualities that will benefit me going into the future. It has taught me initiative, organisation, team work and adaptability - all in which I wouldn't have gained without this opportunity. Volunteering has allowed me to gain a greater involvement in the athletics community, as well as watch all these young athletes grow and develop. The Game Changers programme has enabled all who involved to significantly benefit from and should be implemented further into other clubs within this community. This will create a further reach of the sport, as well as allowing the athletes within it to develop into all-rounded individuals.
Winning the England Spirit of 2012 award, my experience at the SE awards and the Hall of Fame and what it has meant to me.
It was an immense honour to win the England Spirit of 2012 award for volunteering in athletics, alongside so many other amazing people that give so much to our sport. I think it's really important that the Game Changers programme is recognised in order for it to grow and spread to even more clubs. The evening at the Hall of Fame accepting this award was incredible, as we were in the presence of people that all had something in common with us, a love for the sport. Athletics has done so much for me and the people in my club, let alone everyone else who's involved in the sport throughout the country. Both the awards evenings for the South of England and the Hall of Fame, represented something much bigger than just coaching some athletes or officiating at competitions. It was celebrating the way in which volunteers enable a safe and welcoming environment for anyone, no matter where they come from or what background they have. It installs a passion within a community and an equal love for something that can be so inspiring. It also supplies a place of support, that can help people not only improve their physical health, but their mental and emotional health too, which is equally as important. These awards evenings allowed us to celebrate the people who supply this support, as the sport would be nothing without them. And to even be a small part of this, was a huge privilege.