Imagine a sports club entirely dependent on volunteers. If their car won’t start one morning, a session could be called off.
There is no chance of that happening this Friday at Manchester Handball Club, when twice Olympic swimming gold medallist Rebecca Adlington will offer her services for London 2012’s legacy charity Join In.
The role volunteers play is vital to the development of grass roots sport in the UK and the club’s women’s coach Rachel Harpham said without them there’d be no handball to play.
“Without all the hard word and determination given by all the volunteers, our club would not exist,” she said, adding volunteers can help from being on the committee to coaching the teams, working on the website and other social media.
Join In CEO Rebecca Birkbeck said handball, one of the highlights of the London Games given its previous lack of exposure in England, had exploded on these shores.
“Handball has seen dramatic growth since London 2012. Nowhere is sport more part of the community and people’s lives than up here in the North West,” she said.
We all know any future Olympian starts at the very bottom but one shocking fact is that, according to Join In research, seven in 10 clubs need more volunteers.
Decathlete Dean Macey, gymnast Louis Smith, triathlete and iron-woman Chrissie Wellington, middle-distance runner Liz McColgan, middle and long-distance runner David Moorcroft, middle distance runner Dame Kelly Holmes, sprinter and hurdler Kriss Akabusi, former rugby international Josh Lewsey and Adlington all began at volunteer-led sports clubs.
The stellar lineup will all feature throughout August as part of the Summer Relay for Join In, whose patron is comedian and marathon runner Eddie Izzard.
Lottery-funded Join In has recently recruited over 200 local leaders as they seek put 100,000 more volunteers into community sport.
For more information visit www.joininuk.org
Main image courtesy of Press Association via YouTube, with thanks.