VOLUNTEERS IN FOCUS: The Roles, Challenges & Rewards of a Chairperson

VOLUNTEERS IN FOCUS: The Roles, Challenges & Rewards of a Chairperson

For National Volunteers Week we’ve been speaking to a few of our dedicated volunteers in various roles at clubs and teams from across Wales. Today we find out more about the role, challenges and rewards of being chairperson as we speak to Chair of Penarth Hockey Club, Nick Pratt and the Chair of the West Wales POD, Gwyneth Ayers.

How did you get into volunteering?

Gwyneth Ayers

Gwyneth: Being a smaller club everybody has to volunteer in different ways either by arranging fixtures, teams, matches, match fees, preparing press releases or fund raising. It was just something we all did together and wouldn’t really call it volunteering but rather helping the club develop.

Having played for a number of years and being part of the senior team with Clwb Hoci Llandysul we could see there was a gap in opportunities for younger players, so we decided to establish a junior section in the club in 2013. This led to me and others in the club undertaking additional coaching training on a voluntary basis.

As I’m quite a chatty person I represented the club on the West POD and happened to be at a meeting when there were only a few others in attendance and I took over the Chair and it has continued since then!


Tell us about your role as chair and what you aim to achieve...

Nick: You have to be whatever your club needs you to be, providing leadership in whatever form, from cheering on the touchline to celebrating success, setting direction and goals, supporting the real people who do the hard work. Every day brings new challenges and there are never enough hours in the day for what needs to be done, but the MOST important task for me is to ensure that whatever we achieve is sustainable and that the club will survive and thrive for at least another hundred years.


What has been your biggest achievement as a volunteer?

Gwyneth: It was a team effort but the establishment of the West POD Development Centre this season is probably the greatest achievement. This is an important development for West clubs as many of us don’t have a fully structured coaching set-up so as well as giving the younger players more opportunities it’s also giving assistant coaches opportunities to learn and take that back to their club structures.

Nick: I have achieved nothing. The people on the ground and the pitch are the ones who have achieved everything this season, the Mums and Dads who take the trouble to bring their kids to training, the kids themselves who are so eager to learn and improve, training and playing with a smile on their faces, the coaches, both youth and senior who give freely of their time, the captains of all the sides who give leadership and structure, the players themselves, the 'behind the scenes' people who ensure the club runs smoothly and all the friends and supporters of Penarth Hockey Club, anything and everything Penarth Hockey Club achieves is THEIR achievement, THEIR success.


What advice would you give to someone looking to volunteer within a similar role?

Gwyneth: Give what time you can. Everybody is very busy these days but giving time to a local cause can be very rewarding, both for you personally but also from a wider community perspective.

Nick: Recognise there ARE people outside your Club who can provide help, advice and support. I have been hugely grateful to the Chairs of Whitchurch and Cardiff Hockey Clubs for their support and guidance when needed - compete like tigers on the pitch, cooperate off, The Vale of Glamorgan Council Sports Support group and, of course Hockey Wales who have been unwavering in their support of what we are trying to achieve.


Finally, what is the most rewarding part of your involvement?

Gwyneth: Seeing the development of younger players in the club progressing from junior hockey into the first team set-up. 

As part of Volunteers Week, Sport Wales in collaboration with Hockey Wales have launched Club Solutions, a new information hub for sport clubs and in Wales to help you grow your club. 

Click here to visit the Club Solutions website or click the image to watch a short video to find out more about Club Solutions.

Club Solutions Video