Otter Swimming and Water Polo Club member – and former Great Britain international water polo player – Peggy Etiebet talks to us about how she got involved with volunteering.
How did you first get involved in volunteering?
I’ve played water polo with Otter for over 10 years. The club is run by volunteers and I believe that all athletes should help contribute to the running of their club. As players we get a lot of fun out of the games and training but there is a lot of work that happens behind the scenes to enable us to have fun and compete.
I believe that all players should be prepared to all chip in to help run their club and at least in Otter, if you stay in the club long enough, eventually some volunteer role will be thrust upon you!
With regard to coaching, I’ve benefited from the dedication, passion and experience of a number of coaches without whom I would not have been able to achieve my dream to play for GB. There are a large number of young girls out there with the same dream – if I can do just a little to help them achieve it then I want to.
I took my Level 1 and Level 2 coaching qualifications and then I was asked by Nick Buller who is coach at Otter and Head Coach at the Crystal Palace Beacon Programme and Norman Leighton ASA Talent Development Officer to help coach the younger girls at Crystal Palace and England Talent.
What barriers have you faced?
I’ve not experienced any barriers as a result of being a mix of Nigerian, Canadian and of course wholly GB. I can see that from the outside it may seem difficult to penetrate what appears to be a cohesive group running a club.
But I would say just ask to help – no club is going to turn away a willing volunteer and you will see that they will welcome you with open arms. We all want to progress our sport and benefit the athletes – and that aim takes precedence over any other issue.
The main challenge has been balancing my career at the Bar with my volunteer roles! Because I have benefited so much from the sport I find it difficult to say no especially where the sport relies so much on volunteers.
However, any volunteer role can be as big or as little as you make it – I don’t think anyone should be put off by thinking they do not have much time to spare – even an hour a week will be welcomed by your club.
What advice would you have for others thinking about volunteering?
- Start with what you are comfortable with – with coaching I acted as an assistant coach or poolside helper first for one session a week. It helped me gain confidence to take on a team by myself.
- Bring a friend – not only will you have less to do but you will have fun and it eases the way until you make friends with all the other volunteers.
- Just do it! In sport you automatically have one thing in common with the other athletes, coaches, officials and parents, and that sporting interest will allow you to find common ground whatever your differing backgrounds to build not just effective working relationships with your fellow volunteers, but lifelong friends in aquatics.