iCanVolunteer: Jamie Holland
What does your role entail at Eldwick?
My role at Eldwick Juniors FC is the Club Welfare Officer. I have held this position for a couple of years now but on top this role I help in many other areas in the day to day running of the club and work closely with our chairman (Danny Holt) and club secretary (Lee Poppleton) and we probably speak nearly every day.
The other roles are organising & coaching our pre-school aged kids and a few years ago we re-branded this group to Eldwick Little Eagles. Another role is organising and coaching our new girls section which started 2 years ago, I was assisted by another coach (Jay Welsh) in setting up the girls only training sessions.
Other key duties I undertake are checking venues, allocating pitch times on match days, setting training plans, communicating with coaches and parents daily, helping with social media , using the Whole Game System, looking after any safeguarding concerns and addressing them.
My weekend usually consists of training from 8am to setup until after 1pm most Saturdays and depending on match times and with how many teams I’m helping on a Sunday, it could be another 2-4 hours of football.
How did you get involved?
Like many other volunteers I got involved after my son joined the club and after a couple of weeks I was offered the opportunity to help with his team. It started by just collecting the footballs after they had been kicked behind the goals and down the hill and slowly got more involved with helping in the training sessions.
Coaching had been something I was wanting to do long before my son started to show a keen interest in playing football, but I was unable to due to work at that time. I changed my job and was then able to start to help more in my sons team and with the youngest kids group.
I had seen an FA level 1 course but it was my wife who booked it for me as a surprise as I kept putting off booking it myself and since going on the course I haven't looked back really and it has now been nearly 8 years of coaching.
Why do you give up your free time to volunteer at Eldwick?
I give up my free time to volunteer at Eldwick as I want the club to be the best it can be for my son and daughter who both play at the club and also want to help the club to be a great environment not just for my kids but for all kids wanting to come play football at Eldwick. I want to make a positive difference and play my part in making the club grow to a place where we can welcome more kids and their parents to the club and join our community. I hope all parents who I have come to meet over the years would say in later years that I had a positive effect while they were at the club.
What do you enjoy about the role?
I really enjoy all my roles while volunteering at the club (I must do as I do more hours helping the club than my full time paid job), my real passion is coaching and creating fun/safe training sessions and that all kids are laughing and smiling. One thing I always say is “we start with a smile and finish with a smile be it training or match days”.
I want to share my enthusiasm of the game and hope the kids I coach get the same enthusiasm.
What has been the highlight of your volunteering experience?
There has been so many highlights for me and one of them is being able to spend time coaching both my son from an early age and then my daughter, but my biggest highlight and proud moment to date is my recent project in setting up the girls section (Eldwick Juniors Lionesses) from nothing to reaching 100 girls + just last week. We have only being going for the last 2 years and we are growing all the time.
Another highlight was putting a lot of hard work into organising & hosting zoom meetings and getting as many clubs to take part in the process to try set up a Craven, Aire & Wharfe Girls League, with the aim and working closely with other girls league such as the West Riding and Harrogate, and I’m very happy to get to a stage of the process of it starting sooner rather than later and if we can get going by September it will be a massive highlight.
What has been the biggest challenge during your time as a volunteer?
There has been challenges on the way with volunteering such as trying to balance work / family life but this will be no different to any other volunteers in sport or any other setting. But I would say the biggest challenge to date has got to be during Covid pandemic and lockdown and I have to say my mental health, as I had been suffering from depression and delayed grief after my father passing away 2 years ago, as not being able to coach and not being able to be on the football training pitch socializing with other coaches / parents and kids was extremely tough for me and it was a great feeling to get back.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering in football
My advice I would give to anyone wanting to volunteer in football is do it, as the rewards in seeing kids play with smiles and laughing with new friends by joining a team sport and being able to help that process is amazing.
When a child challenges themselves and learns a skill that has given them so much pride in finally overcoming that challenge with your help is a priceless feeling to have.