The hard-working volunteers at our community clubs across the country already wore many different hats in order to keep their clubs ticking over.
And the challenges posed by the pandemic only increased the pressure.
But these individuals with a passion for sport have rolled with the punches and continued to adapt in order to keep their clubs afloat.
“If we didn’t have a legion of volunteers supporting the club, then the club wouldn’t function,” said Stuart Evans of Bracknell Rugby.
“Obviously, not having that face-to-face contact over the last year or so has presented all sorts of challenges for me and the other volunteers.
“But we’ve kept going and reached into the depths of our coaching knowledge to keep our teams engaged. Some of them have completed many miles of runs, virtual bike rides and, of course, the occasional quiz!
“It’s been a significant time commitment for many of our volunteers and it’s been truly amazing to see how they’ve all come together to keep the club going.”
Francesca Hansen at Harlow Penguins ASC echoed Stuart’s thoughts on how vital volunteers have been during the pandemic.
“Without volunteers you wouldn’t have a club,” she said.
“And volunteers have never been needed more than this year. When we were at the pool we had people stepping up to the plate to be our COVID liaisons — without that help at the side of the pool other people couldn’t swim.
“A lot of people were giving up their own time, even if they didn’t have their kids in the water, just to be there to let others swim.
“Really, without volunteers the club would not still be going.”
Clare Morley is the CEO of Rise, an organisation that looks to improve lives across Northumberland and Tyne and Wear though physical activity.
And Clare has seen the impact that COVID-19 has had on volunteers and witnessed the added pressure it has placed on them.
“As a result of the pandemic there is bound to be an impact on the volunteer network,” she said.
“We can all point to one or two individuals at each club who are key to how that club is run and if they have to take a step back as a result of the pandemic then that could have far wider repercussions.
“As we transition out of lockdown again will we have the people required to get community sport back to where it needs to be?
“I hope so, but I think that all volunteers will need extra support as we emerge from lockdown.”
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