Through my eyes: Hidden benefits of volunteering
A Sunday morning in February and my eyes open to a frosty dawn full of fog. There is a beautiful sense of calm as I glance through the half opened curtains in to the skyline. I yawn and contemplate the actions for the day and I smile, it's match day I say to my self.
I have been coaching and managing a team at Nirvana for 5 years now. Like many managers who dedicate their time on a weekend to help grassroots football, I have come close to hanging up my whistle. How do you manage the commitment of a voluntary role that takes up much of the weekend, whilst balancing the family life at home? I suppose that is a question many ask themselves.
Last year after winning a Cup competition and having a successful year, our team reflected on the season. One boy had said,
"I would like to thank you for putting a lot of work into us. You have been kind and treated us like your own sons and also gave us a lot of respect. You support us and keep us motivated and drive us to become better players and better people".
That's when you know why you wake up early on the weekend to be confronted by 15 testosterone boys all with something different to say. Why you put the extra pressure on your self to teach these youths about things on the pitch and off the pitch. Why you travel the city to stand on the sidelines and shout instructions in to a field of youths on a cold morning.
We do it to make a positive change in their lives and our own. We do it to help them achieve their dreams and strive for excellence. We do it for the moments when you can say we are the best; for the times that replace your broken spirit with joy and camaraderie. We often think that we volunteer to make other people's life's better and forget the benefits that it brings to our own lives. We do it as much for others as we do for ourselves.
More and more parents that use the voluntary services of Nirvana are commenting on the noticeable positive changes to their children’s lives. The work that we do at grassroots level is often taken for granted although contributing enormously to communities all over the city.
One parent Commented, “You almost forget that the football club is a voluntary set up committing their time and efforts to the community and our children. They definitely make a difference to my son’s life”
Another parent whose son plays for the club has said; “Since my son has started to attend football with Nirvana FC, I have seen a noticeable change in his personality. He has come out of his shell and has started to realise that he has things in common with other children. He is a shy boy at heart and it is great to see him starting to develop more confidence. Nirvana has bought a nice balance to his life of school and play”.
Being a parent myself, it is obvious that we as a community with the support of authorities need to keep a firm eye on the benefits that sport and play has on the whole community; From volunteering to increased health and well being, from mentoring to crime prevention and from education to a family or parent spending time with their children.
Driving home after a game, discussing the aspects of the team that can be improved on. There is a longing to be home siting in my favourite chair but in the same breathe thinking about the next training session and what drills to run. I enter the house after a tiring morning and shout, "I'm home". Someone replies, "How did you do". As I start to enthusiastically describe the episodes of the game I realise that the question did want an answer, but was only asked out of courtesy. "We did great" I reply. To which the response is "oh good, I have a few jobs for you to do". And so it begins again.