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Advice from recruiters

Advice from recruiters

sportanddev.org’s Operating Team worked with recruiters within a few sport and development organisations and developed the answers to some commonly-asked questions by potential volunteers who are considering volunteering abroad in sport and development.

What role do volunteers play?

First of all, volunteers are crucial to many organisations implementing sport and development programmes. They often deliver programming on the ground and extend the organisation’s reach through networking, training and innovation.

Since volunteers are in the field, they can identify key opportunities and are often encouraged to start and to implement projects and activities. Some volunteers have been pioneers in the field of Sport and Development and have significantly enhanced many of these kinds of activities with their creativity and skill.

Volunteers make an important contribution to the smooth functioning of host programmes. When they return to their home country, they can stay engaged in raising their home community’s awareness of global issues by sharing their experiences and their continued participation in forums and advocacy groups. Finally, volunteers are often attached to a government or non-governmental sporting organisation (e.g. a Sporting Ministry, Olympic Committee or a National Sports Federation) and play a significant role in their sport development activities.

What personal qualities do sport and development volunteer recruiters look for in their volunteers?

In general, volunteers must be flexible, be able to adapt to a different social and cultural context and be culturally-sensitive to the new community into which they will be placed. They must also have a passion for sport and believe in the power of sport for development. Additional qualities often include:

  • Ability to work in a team;
  • Strong interpersonal skills;
  • Practical problem-solving skills;
  • Self-confidence and leadership skills.
  • Which skills are the most sought after?

In general, most organisations recruit volunteers who have:

  • A passion for sport and are athletes in their own right;
  • Sport development skills;
  • Project management skills;
  • Fundraising skills;
  • Facilitation and training skills;
  • Awareness of global issues;
  • Familiarity with teaching sport in different environments.

What kind of educational or professional background should volunteers have?

Some organisations demand a particular educational or professional background for their volunteers but this usually depends on the organisation you apply to. In general, volunteers usually come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Volunteers are usually educated to degree-level and have had some prior volunteering experience. Ideal candidates have an educational and/or professional background in sport, sport administration, physical education, education, kinesiology, public health or international development. It is usually the case that organisations recruit those with one or more years of experience in one or several of these fields.

What questions should every potential sport and development volunteer ask him/herself?

Every sport and development volunteer should attempt to have a clear objective for joining a volunteering programme. It might be useful to ask yourself some of the following questions before setting out:

  • Why do you want to do this and what’s in it for you?
  • Are you ready to challenge your comfort level, your perceptions, your assumptions and how you see your place in the world?
  • How flexible are you in adapting to the needs of a totally different environment/community?
  • What is your assignment and what will you have achieved at the end of your placement?

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