As sports and physical activity continue their gradual and long-awaited reopening, Baroness Tanni Gray-Thompson DBE has partnered with Sport England and a variety of sports organizations to pay tribute to volunteers across the country who have helped set the mood across the country to keep up the course of last year.
The past 12 months have hit the sports and exercise sectors hard, but volunteers have taken the opportunity to give back during these times of need and take the chance to make good use of their time.
From helping get their club Covid-safe to facilitate a return to the game, to helping their wider communities through food banks, delivering medication, or checking in with neighbors, sports volunteers have done it all, and this is one Contribution Baroness Gray-Thompson is keen to see this.
“We know the coronavirus pandemic was a difficult and challenging time. But we also know that this time also brought out the best in us, ”she said.
“It was a time of kindness, giving and selflessness when people really took action to help their communities.
“We would like to say a big and heartfelt thank you to the millions of people who support popular sport and the activities in these difficult times. Thank you for your incredible commitment and dedication. Thank you for supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of millions of people.
“You have made your life better and helped your communities when they needed you most.”
At a time when sports clubs and organizations faced unprecedented challenges, the invaluable role of those who give up their time in support of the sports sector has never been more evident.
Six million adults and 1.6 million children and young people volunteer every year to promote sport and physical activity. Sport England Sporting Director Phil Smith says supporting this workforce will be instrumental in helping the sport recover in the months to come.
He said: “The last 12 months have been an incredibly challenging time for the sports sector, but it would have been a lot more difficult without the support of a large number of volunteers who have stepped up.
“With the support of our great volunteers, we can help community sport flourish again and make people benefit from all the great things that sport and physical activity can offer.
“With so many clubs and groups starting over, this is the perfect time to recognize the amazing efforts of our sector’s volunteers. Thank you for working so tirelessly to keep your clubs and community organizations running and for going the extra mile. “
In a video published by Sport England’s Club Matters program #ClubMatters, Baroness Gray-Thompson joins Sport England and a number of national sports federations and other partners in a message of thanks to everyone who has done their part to make sport possible and physical activity take place.
Despite these challenging times, Baroness Gray-Thompson believes there is reason to be optimistic about the future of grassroots sport and urges volunteers to keep giving their time.
She said, “The familiar sights and sounds of the sports and activities we love will return soon. However, this can only be done on the basis of volunteers. So please pass it on whenever you can – and keep making the difference. “
Club Matters is a lottery-funded program run by Sport England that provides free advice, guidance and resources to help sports clubs, groups and community organizations. Club Matters has numerous resources to help these organizations get back to playing, support their participants, recruit new volunteers, and more. For more information, see: www.sportenglandclubmatters.com