Volunteer Case Study | Russell House
“I feel great when I bump into former pupils from my school and they thank me for introducing them to rugby, football or Touch. It's incredibly rewarding.”
I initially volunteered at Norwich Rebels because the club was in danger of folding due to lack of numbers and few opportunities to play locally in Norfolk. When I discovered Touch I realised that I absolutely loved it and didn't want to lose the chance to play regularly.
I started the Norfolk Touch League in 2013 to encourage more teams and individuals to play in the region. The number of teams and the quality of touch has improved steadily over the past six years.
I started coaching informally by accident. We didn't have a regular coach at Norwich Rebels that was able to attend every training session so I stepped in to fill in the gaps.
I've tried coaching and playing in competitive teams. I've coached the Norwich Rebels first team and Norfolk women's team in the past. I don't really enjoy this type of coaching and, if I'm honest, I'm not very good at it.
My specialty is coaching children and adult beginners. I get a kick out of getting people who have maybe not played a team sport since school picking up a Touch ball and having a run around with friends. It's brilliant when those same players progress to playing competitively but it's also great when they play socially every week. I really love the inclusive and supportive culture of touch that enables people of all ages and abilities to enjoy playing together. I hear time and time again that people were put off team sport at school and were made to feel inferior by teachers and other children. If I can help to reverse some of this damage I'm happy.
I've been lucky to coach primary school children in various sports including Touch since 2010. I have first hand experience of how massively important physical education is to children in developing resilience, team working, problem solving and showing respect as well as the obvious physical benefits. I feel great when I bump into former pupils from my school and they thank me for introducing them to rugby, football or Touch. It's incredibly rewarding.
I want every new player that comes to Norwich Rebels to enjoy Touch as much as I do and keep coming back. We have an ambition of having a 50/50 women and men split. Together with Emma Baker I've been running women only beginner sessions in Norwich since 2014. We've getting close to 50/50 women and men split but we still have work to do.
I've coached at many school tournaments and have witnessed how damaging "win at all costs" coaching can be to young children. I run an annual school touch festival where we mix up the players into equal ability groups, teach them how to play and then play a tournament. All the games are competitive and this also enables children who wouldn't normally be picked for school teams to have a chance to shine.
I love volunteering with Norwich Rebels because the other volunteers on the committee and coaching staff are very hard working and supportive. We share a vision for the club and try really hard to make it accessible to all type of players from full internationals to occasional social players.
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