Joshua Fitzgerald signed up as a sports Volunteer with Duddon Canoe Club in Barrow-in-Furness in September 2009. Since joining the programme he has been part of the Leadership Academy there and volunteered 170 Hours which equates to a value of £2363 when applying the Office of National Statistics average hourly rate. When Barrow was awarded Recruit into Coaching funding he was an ideal candidate to progress on and complete a Level 1 UKCC. Still volunteering at Duddon Canoe Club Joshua answered a few questions put to him for us.
"Well, volunteering all started when I was asked to use my experience as a rock climber to help introduce students at a Furness Academy open evening. Here I met Cressida Allwood (Furness School Sport Partnership Development Manager) who told me about the Step into Sport Volunteers Program. From here I kept a log of all my voluntary hours and logged them in my log book when I got signed up on line. I got involved because I'm happy to help those less experienced than myself, I get a lot of satisfaction out of coaching kayaking especially when I see smiles on the participants faces."
"I think being a volunteer is great, it gives me something to focus on and keeps me out of trouble, also I guess my coaching can potentially keep the participants out of trouble. When I'm volunteering I really like to see the students progressing in the sports, it makes me think "wow I taught them how to do that" and when they use the skills I taught them it shows me that what I have taught them has been useful to them."
"If I have told someone that I will be coaching I feel that I have to coach. That is just how I am, if I don't I will feel really bad and will have a guilty conscience. Also because of rules and regulations if I didn't go it could mean that some people who want to kayak will not be able to because a coach can only take so many children in order to supervise them all. I also really enjoy the social side of volunteering in the club environment. I have met coaches that I can learn from, coaches that I can work with and these experiences have allowed me to progress as a coach, as a kayaker and as a person."
"I have learnt many things from my experiences, most importantly of all that money isn't everything, this also seemed to correspond with things I had been learning about non-financial motivators in business studies at school. I have also learnt the best ways to coach people. I have worked with special needs students form Sandside lodge and this allowed me to learn how the best ways are to get the message across about the skills I was teaching."
Because of sports volunteering I have gained qualifications such as BCU 2* Award, Level 1 Paddlesport Coach Award, Foundation Safety and Rescue training in Paddlesport, Apprentice Basketball Coach Award, Cricket Leaders Award, Tennis Leaders Award, Tag Rugby Leaders Award. And also due to my willingness to learn, I received my Level 1 Referee and Table Official Certificates in Basketball. All of these qualifications would have cost a lot of money but because of volunteering, different organisations have paid for the courses for me. Such as the "Recruit into Coaching" programme gave me full funding to do my Level 1 Coach in Paddle Sports Award which should have cost up to £200. I have also become a recognised member of my canoe club now and the work I have done looks great my CV.
I hope that my experience will benefit me in the future in many ways, I hope to continue coaching in the future possibly as a professional however if the opportunity doesn't arise I will be more than happy to continue voluntary work. I hope that it will help me in various aspects on my journey through life such as getting on coaching courses, getting a job and hopefully getting in to a college as it shows my commitment perfectly.
Looking ahead in 5 years time I hope to be at least a Level 2 Coach in Paddlesport. I hope that this will help me teach university students as I hope to be so that they can get the most out of their university experiences just as I hope to.