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For the love of the game. The ultimate volunteer.

Volunteering provides a rare backstage pass to some of the world’s most coveted sporting events, providing sporting fans around the world with a unique opportunity to not only to be a part of the sport they love, but to join the team!

Fans in the form of volunteers are an incredible resource to sporting federations and professional teams of all shapes and sizes - without which, many would cease to exist. 

Not only do fans bring skills and knowledge about their favourite sport, they’re also incredibly passionate volunteers who create a sense of magic that you often can’t replicate with paid staff.

 

Passionate and engaged volunteers

Fans know their sport. They live and breathe it. They know the players, the rules and they sing the theme song proudly. Often they come from backgrounds within the sport itself, maybe as a past player or coach, looking for a way to give back to the sport they love. 

Fans who choose to volunteer are passionate and are an incredible resource to any sporting club. They’re happy to donate their time for the chance to give back to the sport they love and their passion shines through for all to see. 

One of the biggest sporting events worldwide, The Olympics, typically attracts thousands of fans looking to volunteer. Despite a worldwide pandemic, volunteers ensured that the spirit of volunteering shined in Tokyo with a select few able to make their mark on the world’s stage.

Bruce Danberry describes how he didn’t think he would be able to continue his passion of volunteering at the Games for the sport he loves, hockey. Cast as one of the lucky few international field sports volunteers at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Bruce was able to participate in the Games due to his sport-specific experience. 

“I decided to volunteer again as it’s a chance to put something back into the sport of hockey that I love and have been involved with all my life,” he explains. “The Olympics are special – there is something about the Olympic Movement that brings the best out of people; it’s unique. It’s difficult to describe, as it’s so much more than just the sport on the field of play.”

Read the IOC’s full article on the ‘‘Spirit of Volunteering continues in Tokyo’ here

It’s these types of volunteers, who go the extra mile, who smile from start to finish that really change the dynamic of a team for the better. 

They also bring an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience. Many organizations often lump volunteers into the inexperienced category, which just couldn’t be further from the truth. 

More often than not, volunteers may have been volunteering longer than you’ve been in the job so make sure to show them respect and learn from their experience to ensure that you get the most out of your program. 

 

Global volunteers

In an episode of Rosterfy’s The Engaged Volunteer Podcast we spoke to FIFA’s Head of Workforce, Anne-Catherine Inne who discussed the important role that fans play in FIFA’s global volunteer program. 

Despite it being an ‘unpaid’ role. AC shares how hundreds of their volunteers continue to donate their time, flying themselves halfway across the globe to support the sport that they love. 

While these volunteers are not only incredibly passionate, they are also experienced FIFA volunteers, who are knowledgeable about the sport and the brand, which consequently means a better experience for all. 

These repeat volunteer fans help to fill one of the biggest challenges of a volunteer manager: -recruitment and retention. With a global database of volunteers who are experienced, knowledgeable and passionate about your brand, you are well equipped to deliver a world class event. 

 

Magic Makers

"You can put forward a business case to say having volunteers is cheaper than paying paid staff but it goes so much deeper than that because the unquantifiable, which is difficult to do, is what does it mean to the experience? 

And this is where I can talk to my experience for London 2012 and the impacts of the Games makers and the 70,000 volunteers that we had and so always with Games and events there will be folks who check and challenge the organizing committee on why we are using volunteers and not giving them paid opportunities but there is just this intangible spirit that volunteers bring to events.”

Andy Newman, Director of Workforce and Operations for Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 talks to this in detail during his time on The Engaged Volunteer Podcast. 

Just like the staff at Disneyland, volunteers have the ability to create magic. Whether it be an extra loud cheer at a marathon, a shoulder to cry after an injury or just a friendly smile to greet participants on a cold morning- these small moments can leave a big impression on participants. Just the sheer presence of friendly faces on hand to answer questions, give reassurances or give directions can help to create a more relaxed, welcoming and exciting atmosphere. 

Volunteers contribute more than just economic value. The unquantifiable experience that they bring to an event, organization or cause makes experiences memorable and unique and worth coming back for. And it’s this positive environment that will encourage participants, guests and volunteers to return year after year.

If you’d like to hear more about engaging fans as volunteers, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.