An AGB Ambassadors Tale – by Jack Sharpe9th April 2021
The end of March 2021 will see the second year-end in my role as an AGB Ambassador.
This has made me think about what I have done, what had I wanted to do and what to do next. When we signed up it was for an initial 2 years and let’s be honest, no one saw the 2 years might include a worldwide pandemic!
So, why did I apply?
I have often helped put at club with different things going on and autumn 2018 saw me in year 8 at school and they gave us a presentation about the value of volunteering when going into the world of work. We were given information about different ideas and areas to consider taking home and chat with parents. That same day when I got home my archery Uk magazine had landed and as I had a flick through there was an article about the start of the new ambassador programme. This looked to tick all of the boxes that had been talked about by the teachers but was a chance to volunteer in my sport. It meant I didn’t have to worry about a set night or weekend going somewhere as it is flexible volunteering, perfect to fit around training and competition.
After a chat with my mum, as she has volunteered at so many things since she was school age, she encouraged me to complete the application form. She also mentioned that she had seen it earlier in the day and had also applied – perfect as I was only just approaching my 13th birthday and would need transport wherever I needed to be, looked like that might be sorted.
In mid-March 2019 we went of to our first seminar to meet the other applicants and find out more about it. We had a great day, met lots of enthusiastic volunteers with similar hopes to us for what we might achieve in our roles.
That first year flew by, I have always enjoyed explaining my sport to others, beginners’ courses, have a go’s and the big weekend were great for this. My AGB shirt meant others already in the sport felt they could approach me to ask things too, particularly juniors who with age restrictions for communication it can be hard to be heard. A highlight was definitely the days we volunteered at the archery event for the World Transplant Games, meeting people from other countries and seeing archery in an adapted environment but the people we met were truly inspiring.
As a volunteer the role we play in keeping our sport going can be overlooked and sometimes we can be shouted at by archers who are frustrated and maybe don’t realise they aren’t acting kindly!
The transplant games saw all volunteers be given clothing, it varied by role, but clearly marked us out as we travelled around the city and venues. It was mind blowing how we were received not just at venues by athletes but just getting on public transport or walking before dinner, having strangers thank us for giving our time to make their city’s hosting of the games successful for them. Definitely an appreciation of what we were doing as volunteers.
Then came 2020! Well, we had plans, all of us did, but that all went out of the window quickly and we tried to make sense on a day by day of what we were doing. I am not ashamed to say I struggled with the loss of routine and other than schoolwork every day the only place I felt safe was a weekly coaching session, in the periods we were allowed, the range brings me peace and my coach is amazing, so with her help I stepped out of the house.
So, I managed to do a little bit of volunteering in 2020 by getting involved with beginners courses at club and some time with my coach when she was doing some courses and I was over there too.
If it is strange for us, imagine starting a new sport in socially distanced times, everyone wearing masks and sanitising constantly. My sport is full of friendly faces but how would you know behind the masks!
So that was partly my role in 2020 to speak with a smile in my voice, to try and make people feel welcome and comfortable and help them too. Does not sound like much but facing my own fear to step outside I know how the range can feel soothing, I wanted others to feel that.
So, as I sit here, I have a decision to make as I reach my 2-year end. I will continue to volunteer and in the role of ambassador. I am making some plans for what I would like to do in my next year, but I am making them flexible and cautiously.
Would I recommend volunteering to others, yes, it is great to be involved in other people’s experiences and where possible make those better. I do think volunteers are undervalued and people do not realise just how much the sport runs on that time given by what is mostly an invisible work force as we are often blending in and moving amongst you.
I have gained fantastic experiences but even just a smile from those we are trying to work for can help me find the energy to help on what are some days, long spells of giving my time for the love of my sport.
So, here’s hoping I see you somewhere around a range in 2021 and if you want to chat about volunteering you are welcome to ask.