Community sporting clubs in the Gippsland Region make a significant contribution to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the community. The contribution that sport makes to the fabric of our society is often overlooked at a political and economic level. Having said this it is recognized that many clubs are struggling to attract and retain the volunteers required to keep their club in a sustainable position. Many potential volunteers, who are often also playing their chosen sport, indicate that they are “time poor” and say they are unable to make a contribution off the field of play.

The challenge for club officials is to identify the tasks which need to be carried out in a club and delegate in an even manner. Some clubs fall into the trap of having just a few do all the work and we know that leads to “burnout” and even despair for those who do this. It can result in resignations, conflict, committee vacancies and poor management. Appropriate leadership of a club is still very important but it should not result in the leaders doing all the work.

There are plenty of resources available to assist clubs and at GippSport we strongly encourage clubs to make use of as a starting point to review your club’s practices and policies. GippSport staff members based in Newborough, Inverloch, Sale  and Bairnsdale are also available to assist at no charge to the club. The only cost is your time. All of this may sound a little “dry” and some may think unnecessary, but the value of planning cannot be underestimated. Succession planning for people to taking over positions of responsibility is also another challenge for clubs. Current leaders should be aware that they are not going to be in the position forever and should be “grooming” other club members to replace them. It is easy to say but not so easy to do.

I am staggered at the number of hours volunteers put into their club and these passionate people deserve the gratitude of their club members. Hopefully clubs are aware that there is more to the sport than winning the premiership and that the social connectedness which sport allows is strongly featured in club conversations. It is hard to imagine the residents of the many small towns we have in the Gippsland Region without the opportunity to participate in community sport either as a player, official or volunteer.

All power to the people who keep our Gippsland sporting clubs running and are making such an outstanding contribution to their community.