Where would we be without volunteers?

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By Community Rugby

“I don’t believe anyone sets out to be a volunteer. It just happens.”

This is something a volunteer would say. And not just any volunteer. Mick Pini from Bonython in Canberra was awarded the ARU Volunteer of Year 2012 at last year’s John Eales Medal event, and knows a thing or two about volunteering.
“One day you do one thing and then another and so it goes. You start in the canteen, set up an oval, become a manager, then coach, and end up as president.  You just do what you need to do, be it for a team or club, or at an association or representative level,” says Pini.
Next Monday sees the start of National Volunteer Week 2013, Australia’s largest celebration of volunteers and volunteerism. Today there are over 6 million (ABS 2010b) people volunteering annually in Australia, representing 36% of the adult population.
Volunteering by definition is performing a service willingly and without pay. Around 35,000 passionate and dedicated people offer their time to help ensure the smooth running of Rugby in Australia; from coach to referee, manager to committee member, running the tuck shop to running the club. Without this army of volunteers from across the country, Rugby wouldn’t be what it is today.
Liverpool local, Mike Clay, from Liverpool in Sydney’s west, has been volunteering for over 40 years. For him, it’s all about being involved in the game he loves, and its people.
“Rugby is a great game both on and off the field. Doing this has allowed me the wonderful opportunity to meet many lifelong friends and be part of what is a great Rugby family & community,” says Clay.
“I helped build a club, and been privileged enough to help out at state and international matches in various ways.
“It’s satisfying that at the end of the day or weeks later you can look back and think I helped make that work and had fun along the way”.
Mal Lelay, awarded NT’s Volunteer of the Year in 2012 for his work with the Swampdogs Club, came into Rugby later in life.
“I filled in for a work mate and haven’t looked back. I coach and manage my kids’ teams and have set up a Golden Oldies team, the Olddogz. There is a great sense of community and our health and social lives have all benefited,” says Lelay.
Making a difference, meeting people, developing a sense of community and involvement in children’s activities are oft-cited reasons why people volunteer. But whatever the trigger for starting, it’s the same reason why people carry on.
I’ll let Mick Pini have the last word.
“It is about the love of the game and doing a bit to help out, which is what I do and enjoy. So far I keep getting invited back, so I must be doing something right.”
Look out for the ARU National Volunteer of the Year Award later this year, where your Club can nominate a valuable volunteer for their State entry.
For more information on Rugby Volunteering please contact your local State Union.

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