Netball volunteers are the lifeblood of local, state, national and international competitions, programs and events staged in Australia.
As we celebrate International Volunteer Day, Netball Australia recognises the efforts of those around the country who contribute hours of their personal time to ensure Australians can participate in netball.
Volunteer Judi Buhagiar says that it’s her love for the sport that keeps her tied to netball.
“Netball has been my sporting life. If someone asks for my help, I’ll often say that I’m happy to do that. I love being a part of it,” Buhagiar said.
“They still call on me and ask for my help and I love that – I love sharing the knowledge and knowing that someone will benefit.”
Buhagiar has dedicated at least three decades of her life to the sport in Victoria’s Gippsland region and said it’s rewarding to be part of such a tight-knit community. She says netball is one sport that relies heavily on volunteers.
“It’s the one sport that’s done it the most successfully,” Buhagiar said.
“We’re so lucky that girls love playing the sport and have got such amazing role medals.
“They are friendships that last forever. You do it (volunteer) because you love the sport and you get so much out of it.”
Buhagiar’s involvement in netball began as a player before she moved into coaching and administration, which included the establishment of the netball program at the Gippsland Sports Academy many years ago alongside Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander.
The Traralgon volunteer recently ran the ANZ NetSetGO program for three years at St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School and helped establish a one-hour after-school training program for recently arrived migrants to the area.
“It’s basically a `Come and Try’ program where kids come down and have some fun. We’ll try and find them a team to play in but, if not, at least we’re teaching them some new skills,” Buhagiar said.
“Netball Victoria were fantastic in helping us assisting the girls to play – and there was some fantastic talent among those girls let me tell you.”
Netball Australia recognises the critical and diverse role volunteers play within the netball community from association coordinators and coaches to umpires and canteen staff, regardless of the pouring rain, freezing temperatures or searing heat.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the 2010 General Social Survey (GSS) found that 2.3 million participated in voluntary work in sport and physical recreation organisations, making it the largest group of volunteers in Australia.
International Volunteer Day has been celebrated annually on 5 December. If you are interested in volunteering for the 2015 World Netball Championships, visit www.wnc2015.com.au to register your details.