Without the thousands of football volunteers, giving up their time and energy every week, football as we know it wouldn’t exist.
The Irish FA have recently established an Official IFA Volunteer Team to encourage volunteering within different areas of the Irish FA and provide exciting opportunities for many committed and enthusiastic individuals. Opportunities have been established within various strands of the local game including Grassroots, Disability, Women’s and Schools football. Each month www.irishfa.com will be speaking to a current member of the IFA Volunteer Team, taking a snapshot of their volunteering experiences within the Irish FA.
This month the volunteer focus spotlight shines on Linda Ross. Linda was one of the first members to join the IFA Volunteer Team (September 2014) and has been involved within various volunteer roles at the Irish FA.
How did you get involved within the volunteer team?
I heard about the new IFA Volunteer Team through my brother, who is an IFA referee. He saw it advertised and knew I would be interested. I have lots of volunteering experience, but as I love football I didn’t hesitate to apply. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get involved and learn about the different areas within my favourite sport. I’m glad I did, as I am really enjoying the different volunteering experiences.
What made you want to volunteer?
Mainly because I love volunteering and I am passionate about football! I get a lot of self satisfaction and enjoyment from helping others, and the fact that I can do this through football is very rewarding.
Tell us about your volunteer role...
My main volunteer role has been helping out at the Northern Ireland Euro 2016 qualifying matches at the pre-match Fanzone, and spectator entry into the matches.
I have also helped out at the NIBFA National Games Development Day, Club NI International Cup tournament, the Irish Cup Final, Womens’ UEFA Champions League tournament and U9 & U11 Girls Football tournament doing various roles.
I’ve really enjoyed all the roles, and meeting IFA staff within the different areas of football.
Has volunteering helped you in a personal or professional level?
Yes, definitely. On a personal level, my family and friends would once have told you I was the shy one among them, but volunteering has made me become a more confident person as I’ve had to step up and undertake challenges that I would never have had the confidence to previously undertake. I’m still not confident speaking in front of lots of people, but I’m still learning with every volunteer experience. I’ve also made lots of great friends through volunteering.
Professionally, volunteering has enhanced my communication skills, which enables me to effectively deal with any difficult people I may come across at work.
What have you learned from volunteering?
Through volunteering, I have learned so many new skills, gained lots of knowledge in the different areas of football, and it has been a great way to gain valuable practical experience. It has made me feel a great sense of achievement, just by knowing that you’ve helped make a football event run successfully, no matter how small the volunteering role may be. It’s a great way to meet and stay in touch with people who share your passion for football.
What has been your most enjoyable volunteer experience?
I’ve really enjoyed all my football volunteering experiences. Seeing the passion and determination of the young players during the NIBFA National Games Development Day at Mallusk in August was fantastic, and it was great to be part of that experience. Recently, my most enjoyable volunteering experience has to be witnessing Northern Ireland qualify for the Euro 2016 Finals against Greece in October. Interacting with the excited fans at the pre-match Fanzone, helping with spectator entry into the stadium and then being rewarded with access to the match to celebrate the team’s success with the fans was truly amazing. An experience I will never forget.
In one sentence, why should people volunteer within the IFA team?
It’s well organised, great fun and you will make lots of new friends.