There is hardly a more noble act than that of being a volunteer.
Within rugby league, volunteers make a lot of things possible. In fact, there is no game without them.
Whether it’s team managers, coaches, referees, whatever role, when volunteers come and give their time, they generally start off by doing it for someone else.
Like Runaway Bay Seagulls volunteer Barbara Laskas. She started out because her son wanted to play rugby league.
But what a lot of volunteers find – in rugby league or any sport, for that matter – is volunteering isn’t a one-way transaction.
While it takes a lot of selflessness, time and effort, many of our volunteers find that while they start off doing it for other people, they end up getting more in return.
It’s a positive aspect of volunteering – you end up being rewarded by the community you help create by contributing to it.
It’s probably why someone like Barbara, whose son started playing at age five, is still volunteering with the Runaway Bay Seagulls 51 years later.
Sesame Street started the year Barbara did. That is an incredible amount of time.
And it’s why we celebrate our volunteers, people like Barb, in this week: National Volunteer Week.
It’s hard to wrap your head around what half a century of volunteering means, and the time and dedication it takes for our game to continue to grow.
Imagine how many hours Barbara, who was the Rugby League Gold Coast Volunteer of the Year in 2021, has dedicated to our game.
She still volunteers because she loves it.
Her son is now 56 but she has grandkids playing at the club. That’s three generations at Runaway Bay.
Barb helps out at all junior and senior home games and is generally the first one there in the morning and the last person to leave of an afternoon.
It’s an outstanding achievement to be part of one organisation for that long.
Without her dedicating all those hours over the years, imagine how many kids wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience what our great game has to offer … or how many volunteers she may have inspired along the way.
Generally with volunteers, we find one reason they are keen to help out is because somewhere along the way someone provided them with an opportunity, someone volunteered to help them out.
It’s like paying it forward.
And the more volunteers we have, the more people will be inspired, and the more this great game can continue to grow in the way it is doing.
One area in which we’ll definitely need more volunteers in the South East is that of our women’s game.
The South East are celebrating quite the milestone this week, as we just ticked over 3000 registered female players for the first time ever.
We are up 30 per cent on this time last year and we have also seen a three per cent rise in overall retention for females in the South East.
It’s astronomical and a great sign of the future of the game for girls and women.
If you wish to recognise a volunteer at your club, the Queensland Rugby League Community Awards are now open. Nominate a volunteer, club or program here.