Volunteers Week: The contributions of the WSA team 

Volunteers Week: The contributions of the WSA team 

Volunteers Week is running from 3 to 9 June this year and, to mark the occasion, the Welsh Sports Association (WSA) is highlighting two members of staff who give their time back to the sport and leisure sector as volunteers. 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Volunteers Week, having started back in 1984. 

The campaign provides an opportunity to thank volunteers who give their time and effort to communities across the UK. 

Volunteers are the backbone of the sport and leisure sector, consistently proving vital in everything from training sessions to large-scale events. 

The WSA’s Commercial Manager, Tom Sharp, volunteers as a coach for the North Cardiff Cosmos girls’ U7 and U8 football team. 

“Sporting activity is crucial for a healthy and active nation; regular physical activity for youngsters can improve their physical fitness and can also boost self-esteem and wellbeing, so it’s vitally important we provide these opportunities to all children, not just to those that can afford to pay for it! 

“It’s all about having fun, being outdoors and working as a team for me, so children turning up each week (in all weather conditions) is hopefully testament to that ethos!   

“I find the growth in club numbers pretty satisfying and makes it all worthwhile. It’s also remarkable how much I enjoy seeing the players improve, master a specific skill, adopt a style of play we’ve been working on in training, or to score their first goal! 

“The sport and Leisure sector is propped up by volunteers,” Tom continued, “so it’s absolutely vital that individuals continue to commit their time to roles within the sector. It’s imperative we provide adequate support and training to these volunteers, so that we can provide our children with safe and secure environments to participate.” 

Matt Williams, Head of Policy and Communications at the WSA, is an avid cyclist and also commits time to a club. 

“As a committee member at Ajax Cycling Club I help support most aspects of the club’s activity, but in particular supporting our racing members and race organisation. We hold a number of events throughout the year which require a lot of effort to put on.” 

Matt also coaches at the Cardiff-based club, having been a British Cycling-registered coach for a couple of years. 

“The club is extremely grateful for Sport Wales support in helping us put our members through the process of becoming qualified coaches. Ajax is primarily an adults’ club, so our sessions are mainly attended by those 16 and up with a fairly broad range of cycling ambitions and interests. 

“Over the last years, one of the things I’ve found most satisfying is supporting our junior members (aged 16-18) with their racing ambitions and watching them grow as cyclists and people during that process. 

“Ajax is one of the largest cycling clubs in Wales, if not the UK,” Matt went on, “and quite simply we wouldn’t exist without a core of volunteers who make all our activity happen.  

“We run several major events a year, club rides several times a week all year-round, and loads more. Without the volunteers all that activity stops, and people’s sporting and social lives get smaller. Our club and our volunteers are the bedrock of our part of the cycling community and we’re very proud of that.” 

Alongside their on-the-ground contributions within the sport and leisure’s volunteering community, Tom and Matt both sit on the Boards of sporting organisations, Tom on the Board of British Dodgeball and Matt on the Board of WSA member Rubicon Dance. 

Matt explained why the role of this type of volunteering is so important, as well. 

“This has been a particularly challenging few years for Rubicon, and as trustees we’ve had to handle some difficult issues with sensitivity and at pace.  

“It’s also been our job to provide some degree of check to Rubicon to make sure we are still delivering against our charitable aims, and are in a sustainable position for the long term.  

“Organisations like Rubicon rely on the volunteer time of trustees and NEDs to help steer and guide the organisation.” 

The WSA would like to thank volunteers across Wales and beyond for the invaluable contribution they make each year, all year round. Without them, sport and physical activity as we know it simply would not exist.  

Head to the WSA Services page to find out how our resources can support volunteers, and register to support WSA members’ events through the WSA Volunteer Hub

Learn more about Volunteers Week, and how to get involved, here.

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