We speak to Darren and David, two of our amazing volunteer Football Coaches about their experience volunteering.
What is your name and what do you do as a volunteer at Bolton Lads & Girls Club?
Darren: My name is Darren and I have been a football volunteer for three years now and currently coach the U11 boys team, U11 Girls team and I have just set up a U10’s and U9’s girls team as well.
David: My name is David and I’ve been volunteering for about four years now and I coach the U12’s boys team and U11’s Girls team with Darren and anywhere else I’m needed at Hacken Lane!
How did you get involved with volunteering?
David: I got involved because of my love of Football and what the Club has done for my son. I’ve been involved in Football all my life and I wanted to help get his team up and running.
Darren: My son also played at the Club and they needed someone to step forward and take over the team. You get involved in all your team’s lives, you are with them through their ups and downs. It started off 1 hour a week, but now I’m volunteering at Hacken Lane nearly every night. It turns into a bit of bug really and I’m now involved in coaching four teams!
What is a normal session volunteering like?
David: We start off with fun activities to get them warmed up, it’s also a good time to check in with them, ask them how they are what is going on at school. Then we have mixture of technical skills and a game. The main thing is to make sure it is a fun session.
Darren: One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to start each session fresh. The kids have a great resilience and don’t bring the baggage of the weekend with them, if we have had a bad game for example, so I make sure I do the same. Another big part is making sure the session is really inclusive, so thinking about what is going on in their lives at the time; the U11’s have just gone through their SATS, which is obviously really stressful, so we wanted to make sure the football training sessions were really fun for them during that time.
What kind of support do you get from BLGC?
David: Ste (Football Operations Manager) is always at the other end of the phone if you ever need him and will always get back to you within the hour, no matter when it is.
Darren: The great thing is he is always straight with you, he will always give you a yes or no, so that you can move ahead one way or another.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
David: Team spirit. Definitely team spirit. That’s really amazing.
Darren: Yes, team spirit and also friendship. Not only is great to see the kids develop friendships, but I’ve made loads of friends as well with other volunteers. I spend more time on the phone to Dave than I do my own wife!
What has been your best moment?
Darren: I’ve been coaching my team all the way from U8’s to U12’s. When we first started we didn’t really win many games but this season we got to the cup final. We didn’t win in the end, but everyone played their equal share of the game which was really important to us as a team, tried their best and had fun.
David: Last season I had a lot of other coaches from other Clubs at away games tell me that my players were never going to make it, they were too short or not fast enough. We started off in the bottom section of our League and we have just been promoted to the mid-section of our league, so we proved them wrong! The best moment for me personally was seeing my son, who usually plays left back, and the team helping him to score his first goal this season, it was just an amazing display of team effort.
What would you say to other people who may be thinking of volunteering?
David: Just do it!
Darren: It has its ups and its downs, but the ups far out weigh the downs.
David: Volunteers are really needed. The football side of BLGC can’t run without volunteers and we always need more help. Darren is here four times a week at the moment, and I’m here two or three. It keeps getting bigger which is fantastic as there is more opportunities for young people to join the club, but we do need more volunteers to keep it going. We need you!
Thanks Darren and David, you are both incredible volunteers, and one of the reasons that makes BLGC so special!