My name is Paul Greenwood and I volunteer in mainstream junior football and disability sport with JTC Jersey Wanderers, Jersey FA, Mont A l’Abbe School, Jersey Frame Football and Jersey Race Running.
I started My Volunteer career, coaching junior football simply because my son, who was 10 at the time, had started playing with Jersey Wanderers but at the start of the season they had no coach for the U11’s so it was a case of put my hand up or try to find another club. I moved into disability sport volunteering because I’d witnessed first hand the enormous benefit that being active had had on my own daughter (who has cerebral palsy) I really wanted to try to bring those benefits to other children or adults.
What is a normal session like? Firstly I’d say that there is always variety and often the unexpected so whilst it’s essential to plan and have an outline structure you need to be adaptable and comfortable in evolving a session specific to the needs of the individuals taking part, this is very true for disability sport but the same rule applies in mainstream. What I would say is never lose the aspect of fun, sessions have to be enjoyable not only for those participating but also for yourself. As a volunteer you need to get enjoyment from what you do, don’t let it become a chore.
How has volunteering benefited me? I have always had a passion for sport and got so much out of it playing from a young age myself that when I finished playing competitively I felt an obligation to give something back. I sit behind a desk most days so as well as the satisfaction from hopefully making a bit of difference I’m keeping active. It's kept me very much part of a wider like minded community, I’ve met some truly amazing people and made some incredible new friendships along the way.
I have had lots of memorable moments. Those that I remember most fondly are whenever I see somebody master a new skill or just having fun it reminds me why I volunteer, fortunately those moments come along pretty regularly so it’s thoroughly satisfying. It does not have to be at an elite level either I love the fact that sport can present itself on so many levels that anybody regardless of ability, age, sex or some form of disability can find an entry level. It’s my personal drive to ensure all sports (or cultural activities) are 100% inclusive so there is that entry level in Jersey, having that choice is essential.
What has surprised me most about volunteering is probably that it is very time consuming if done right, there is no getting away from that so be prepared! I approach it like it's my profession I apply exactly the same standards as if I was being paid and because of that there is no escaping that it takes up a lot of time but for me the rewards are on a par with the effort I put in.
What do I think is the biggest myth about volunteering? I’d say that you don’t have to have a background in a particular sport (or activity) to become a volunteer. I had absolutely no knowledge of football before I got involved (some will say I still don’t !) and I do not think that it hindered me in anyway in fact I probably enjoyed it more because I was learning so much alongside the volunteering.
My advice to anyone thinking about volunteering is that the voluntary sector in Jersey is the reason why so many essential community services continue to be provided. Without volunteers so much of what makes Jersey special would simply not happen. Within sport and wider community activities funding is becoming harder to come by but through the enormous goodwill of thousands of volunteers the community has the ability to thrive making a tangible contribution to the welfare and wellbeing of tens of thousands of individuals. Everybody has something special about them and that special thing can make a real difference to somebody else.