Volunteers' Week: Club Welfare Officer
During Volunteers' Week, we have spoken to Wroxham FC’s Club Welfare Officer, Lisa Hamilton, about what her role entails and why volunteering in football is so important for the survival of our clubs and leagues.
Norfolk FA’s Football Development Officer Anna Larkins asked Lisa Hamilton some questions on her experience as a Club Welfare Officer for Wroxham FC, a club she has volunteered with for 10 years now.
What does your role as a Club Welfare Officer involve?
"It’s a varied role and has many aspects. There is a lot of admin to ensure the club is up to date with the latest guidelines, liaison with everyone in the club, regular training, and dealing with any safeguarding issues that arise. You do need good communication and empathy skills as you need to deal with all sorts of situations and people. It can sound a bit daunting but there is always a huge amount of support from Norfolk FA and I’m lucky enough to have a very experienced group of staff at the club which makes life a lot easier. The role has changed recently as I started my role when the club was purely an adult club, but it is now is becoming an excellent club for youth teams, community projects and has affiliation to college and school programmes too. I now am part of a safeguarding team so have extra help as there is a lot more to now do. It’s a varied role and although sometimes you have some very difficult situations to deal with it is very rewarding."
How important do you think volunteers within football are?
"I honestly believe without volunteers there would be no football - at least at grassroots level. Even with a big club like Wroxham, if we took away the volunteers then it wouldn’t exist. Volunteers are the lifeline now for all football clubs and this is why it’s important to keep encouraging and recruiting all the time."
Are there rewards to volunteering?
"Undoubtedly! Sometimes people think why should I volunteer when I can get paid in a job? However the list of what you gain from volunteering is endless. Personally during my last 20 years volunteering in football I have gained valuable work experience which has helped me get jobs, made some amazing friends, built a strong network of people and businesses, enjoyed hours of quality football for free, and most importantly it’s given me confidence and helped me through some very difficult times in my life. Everyone gains their own rewards from volunteering but the main one I would say is knowing that you make a difference to a lot of people purely by helping out."
Why do you think others should volunteer their time with local clubs and leagues?
"No matter what your strengths or weaknesses there is some kind of role for you within clubs or leagues. From making tea to doing accounts there is something for everyone. Without you the leagues and clubs probably wouldn’t survive. If you wonder what you could do then just go to a game one day and really look at what’s making it possible for this to happen. In a typical youth match volunteers will be managing, coaching, refereeing, sorting kit out, putting nets up, bringing children to and from the game, providing refreshments, giving first aid. Then look at the children’s faces and see what volunteering helps provide to others and know you can be a part of that."
What advice would you give to someone looking to volunteer in football?
"Look at what clubs are in your area and get in touch to see what help they may need. There are pages on Norfolk FA where clubs can advertise for volunteers too. I would honestly say that if you want to volunteer and do not know where to start, then contact Norfolk FA for advice as they will always be happy to share any information they have on volunteering and possible places you can approach."
Are there any other thoughts you would like to share?
"All sports and clubs these days rely on volunteers to help keep them going. Life is getting more and more stressful and it’s important we all are able to access sports, social events and have time out from our routine lives. You may not think one person like you will make a difference, but volunteering not only helps others it can help you too. Give it a go you may be surprised how much you enjoy it."
Anna Larkins, Norfolk FA’s Club Development Officer (Clubs and Leagues) said:
“We are so lucky to have volunteers like Lisa in our County. The role of a Welfare Officer is not always an easy one, but we are so grateful for the work these volunteers are doing in ensuring that young people can enjoy their football in a safe environment.”