How many times have you thought or
heard this comment, "Nobody wants to volunteer for the club anymore" … "I don’t
have anyone to ref the games" … "Who is going to put the nets on the goals for
As a volunteer myself for the past 15 years, I saw this
first hand. Phone call after phone call trying to convince a few people to take
some of the burden off the board members who spend countless hours making sure
game day goes off without a hitch. Things changed a few years ago when, as a
club, we tapped into a resource that we never considered in the past -- the
It starts with our 12- and 13-year-olds and concludes with our
high school seniors. Here’s a breakdown of how we utilize the players from our
Age 12/13. This group is given limited
responsibility but it is important to introduce them to volunteering. Some of
their jobs include: assisting referees (keeping the clock, checking the players
in), game-day field setup (first-aid kit, game ball at the field), or field
clean-up. They are given special colored T-shirts so they are easily recognized.
Age 13/18. This group is the largest of our player
contingent. Jobs include both volunteer and paid positions to help the club run
smoothly while the board members can supervise from a distance. Below are some
of the key areas that are covered by this group.
Referees. They begin with games for the youngest age group and work
their way up. They are usually scheduled for one or two games per day.
* Referee Scheduler. Sets the weekly referee schedule
for the recreation games. Creates an initial referee schedule early in the week
and adjusts for any scheduling conflicts. This is done by e-mail and texting (as
they do so well) to produce the final schedule later in the week.
* Referee Supervisor. An experienced person who
supervises all scheduled referees on game day. Each referee checks in with the
supervisor prior to their scheduled game(s). The supervisor walks from field to
field observing the referees making sure they are doing their job and make any
last minute schedule changes on the fly due to unexpected conflict by a
scheduled referee. They also handle any minor referee coach conflicts.
* Referee trainer. Runs a training class for new and
existing referees a few weeks prior to the start of the season. This person is a
qualified referee and has been a referee for the club for a few years.
* Buddy. The most important part of our special needs
program. They are linked up with a player from Day 1 of the program and guide
the player through the activities each week. We have such a large number of
buddy volunteers that some players have two buddies.
helpers. As the player get older and move on to high school soccer we
use many of these players to assist during our summer camp as assistant
* Board member. We are bringing on a student
board member as a way to get the players voice heard. It is amazing what you
hear from their perspective-- you may rethink the way you currently do things.
We started slowly when we first began utilizing our players with these
important tasks and we continue to find other responsibilities for the players.
Board members oversee the players and offer advice.
Not only has this
reduced the work-load for the board members, it has created a real teamwork type
environment. It has empowered the youth players to be responsible and contribute
to the club, and in return they are able to receive references and
recommendations for their future endeavors.
Tap into this hidden
resource, they are waiting to be asked.
Isaacson is a club president, travel coach, recreation coach, youth
player, college player and dad. He has 30 years of playing and coaching
experience and is founder of youthsoccer101, an online coaching website that supports both recreation & travel coaches)
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