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The impactful contributions of volunteering at sport clubs

The impactful contributions of volunteering at sport clubs guest blog from Sarah Martlew at Moyne Villa for Clubforce for International Womens Day 2024

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, Clubforce proudly shines a spotlight on the remarkable journey of Sarah Martlew within Moyne Villa FC. Sarah’s story exemplifies the power of passion, commitment, and tireless dedication of female volunteers in grassroots sports. From spearheading social media initiatives to embracing digital transformation, Sarah’s journey reflects the ethos of leadership, inclusivity, and community building.

“Moyne Villa isn’t just a football club—it’s a testament to the transformative power of volunteering. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us continue to inspire and uplift one another, recognising that our contributions, however small, have the potential to ignite meaningful change.”

What does volunteering for Moyne Villa mean to you?

“Over the past decade, Moyne Villa has been more than just a football club to me; it’s been a platform where I’ve channelled my passion and commitment into tangible outcomes. Initially, my involvement began modestly, spearheading social media awareness efforts on platforms like Facebook. Witnessing the club’s exponential growth in followership was just the beginning of a remarkable journey. We are now on Instagram and TikTok, which grows every day.

As I transitioned into roles like registrar, marketing coordinator, project management, and facility management, I realised the immense potential for digital transformation within our operations. Embracing platforms like Clubforce streamlined our processes, allowing us to focus more on impactful initiatives rather than drowning in paperwork. The journey wasn’t without its challenges, but every obstacle became an opportunity for growth and innovation. We are now completely paperless in the club, which is a huge achievement from both ourselves and the parents who have had to also adapt to the new way of doing things.”

Why do you choose to volunteer?

“One of the most rewarding aspects of my journey has been the confidence I’ve gained, not just in boardrooms or public speaking engagements, but in fostering genuine connections within a predominantly male environment. Moyne Villa isn’t just a club; it’s a community where friendships are forged, and support is unwavering. I have made friends for life through volunteering.

Through collaborative efforts and effective relationship-building, we’ve achieved milestones that once seemed impossible, but somehow we have done it due to the fact we have such an amazing team.”

What are you most proud of in volunteering for Moyne Villa?

“Reflecting on my time, I’m most proud of our collective achievements—from expanding the club’s reach through social media campaigns to establishing sustainable revenue streams like the coffee shop and 4G Astro pitch. Building the lotto to one of the highest locally to hosting events like the Connacht finals isn’t just about showcasing our facilities; it’s about fostering a sense of pride and unity within our community.

I emphasise the importance of passion, selflessness, and empathy. True leadership isn’t about individual accolades; it’s about empowering others and recognising the collective effort behind every success. Volunteering isn’t just about giving time; it’s about investing in personal and professional growth, building networks, and leaving a lasting impact & truly actively listening to volunteers that may only spend an hour within the club. In my eyes, anyone who volunteers an hour is just as important as someone who does ten hours.

I think looking back at my time within the club I am most proud of how much we have achieved in a short space of time, we have done it all from fundraising and sports capital grants, which take up so much time from volunteers to do. So many people have come and gone within the Club and have helped us along the way. It has been an incredible decade to reflect on for me.”

“Any advice for those aspiring in a leadership role at their sports club?”

For those aspiring to ascend to executive or leadership roles, I offer this advice: Pursue your passions earnestly. In my case, my love for football, coupled with my sons’ involvement in the sport, naturally led me to support our local club, Moyne Villa. By embracing the ethos of the club and embodying selflessness, I’ve gradually become one of its senior figures. It’s crucial to acknowledge that true achievements are collective efforts; no one can claim success single-handedly. Giving generously of your time and expertise without expecting immediate returns is key to excelling in any field.

My involvement with Moyne Villa has not only enriched the club but has also positively impacted my own business endeavours. By consistently delivering quality work and demonstrating dedication, I’ve earned recognition and referrals, fostering professional relationships beyond the football pitch. It’s important to recognise that the dividends of volunteering often transcend financial gain, contributing significantly to personal growth and development.

Shown Sarah Martlew on the left at Moyne Villa FC standing next to their club crest

To grow in leadership, cultivate active listening skills and demonstrate empathy towards fellow volunteers, even in fleeting encounters. Recognise the invaluable contributions of those who may devote only sporadic moments to the cause. By fostering a culture of inclusivity and appreciation, you’ll pave the way for collaborative success and personal fulfilment.

In essence, the journey to leadership entails not just ambition but also a commitment to service, empathy, and continuous learning. Aspire not only to climb higher but also to uplift those around you, for true leadership is measured by the positive impact we leave on others and the communities we serve and remember above all to genuinely thank people who help you, thanks goes a long, long way, especially when you mean it!

As we reflect on Sarah’s journey and the incredible achievements of Moyne Villa, let us be inspired to continue championing diversity, empowerment, and inclusivity within grassroots sports clubs. International Women’s Day serves as a poignant reminder of the invaluable contributions of women like Sarah, whose dedication and leadership have transformed communities and touched countless lives. Let us drive forward by fostering environments of support, collaboration, and recognition, where every volunteer, regardless of gender, is valued and celebrated. 

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