iCanVolunteer: Joanne Howard
What does your role entail?
My role essentially is a Welfare Officer for Thackley Juniors FC. I deal with coaches CRBs, courses, making sure everyone has the appropriate qualifications & running to club ethos. I also attend games if there’s issues brought up with a team/coach or parent. I sit on the discipline panel if ever needed and also help with investigating allegations if/when needed. That’s alongside running training plans for all teams within the club, a committee member, arranging presentations, referee rotas within the season & I still coordinate my husband’s team.
How did you get involved?
I got involved as a parent, then team coordinator 1st, after my son (who is Autistic/ADHD) started training & playing for Thackley when other clubs wouldn’t take him.
Why do you give up your free time to volunteer?
I volunteered originally to give back to the club for taking my son on, as I had seen the amount of work people put in & how happy it made my son, but then it became about passing that on for other kids, and for me now (and has been for some years) it’s about doing my bit for all the kids that are in the club/grassroots keeping that going & giving them a safe, fun and inclusive environment.
What do you enjoy about the role?
The enjoyment comes by knowing that we as a club are providing football for all to as many as we can. Seeing and hearing the kids happy at training & games is especially rewarding.
What has been the highlight of your volunteering experience?
The highlight I have to say is winning a grassroots award this year 2021. I don’t do what I do for thanks or rewards, but the fact someone had voted for me was heart-warming & was proof that what I do had made someone happy to be with our club and that is what I do it for.
What has been the biggest challenge during your time as a volunteer?
The biggest challenge has been that even though this is grassroots football not everyone has the same ideas, I’ve witnessed violence from opposing coaches which was very hard to deal with in the moment, but also parents are one of if not the most challenging to deal with.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering in football?
If someone was looking at volunteering for a role with football in whatever capacity that was, I would say to research the role, research the club & their rules/ethos, and the people you will be working with & speak to the club officials.
Be open minded, be prepared that there’s going to be hard times and you may struggle & question yourself but lean on the structure available within your chosen club to support you. And be open that you’re in it for the long run, it really is rewarding & the good times far outweigh the bad/hard times.