Scottish Women in Sport - Volunteer of the Year:
An interview with Jackie Smith, Scottish ClubSport Chair
We’re proud to share that Scottish ClubSport Chair, Jackie Smith, was named Volunteer of the Year at the glitzy, Scottish Woman in Sport awards this weekend.
Alongside leading the team at Scottish ClubSport, Jackie is the first female Chair of Aberdeenshire ClubSport SCIO, and is treasurer at Huntly Small-bore Rifle Club.
On the very same weekend the accolade was presented, Jackie sat down for an interview with Scottish ClubSport Director, Jess Baillie to reflect on the experience.
We hope you find it just as inspiring as we do.
How does it feel to have been awarded the Scottish Women in Sport, Volunteer of the Year award?
Once I got over the shock (it’s bizarre), I was chuffed. I do what I do because I love it and I don’t think I do anything more than anyone else. Lots of dancing happened that night!
What has been your favourite moment in your volunteering journey so far?
It’s a hard question as I hold 3 volunteering positions.
I’m most proud of the fact I’m the first female Chair of Aberdeenshire ClubSport which had been running for 25 years by that point. We’re also coming up to the 50th anniversary of Scottish ClubSport and I’m still only the 2nd female Chair in that time.
More broadly, I’m proud that the funding we’ve provided as Aberdeenshire ClubSport SCIO throughout the last 2 years has enabled 11,000 kids to participate in sport for free. Seeing the kids enjoying themselves reminds you why you do it.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get involved in volunteering but is a bit unsure?
Give it a go! I only got involved because my son decided to follow in his Grandad’s footsteps and take up rifle shooting.
It’s really just 8 little words that got me started and can get you started to: “Do you need a hand? I’m here anyway.” They’ll definitely find a role for you!
In my case, the club needed help and especially, funds. There was this idea that it’s too hard to make money for rifle shooting – which can be seen as a taboo sport. I fought against that idea and have raised £35,000 in my time with the club. It’s gone towards upgrading the electronic scoring and providing equipment for many people. I’m the least sporty person you’ll ever meet but I gave it a go!
What have you gained personally from volunteering?
It’s opened doors for me to meet people I would never have met before. I’m a people person and love to chat with people from everywhere!
There’s also a bit of satisfaction as you know you’ve helped to make a big difference e.g. turning a club away from financial struggles or helping an athlete get to the top of their game due to funding. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved - I’m just a Mum who got involved!
I now care passionately about grassroot sport and that’s one of the main reasons I went for Chair of Scottish ClubSport. I wanted to be sure the grassroots perspective is kept at the forefront of national work.
We need to prevent sport becoming an opportunity which can’t be accessed by those who are less privileged. I’m still not a massively confident person (I sometimes feel like a fraud when I’m speaking to people who have made sport their professional career), but I know that I’m fighting the good fight with a passion I didn’t know I had until I started volunteering.
This award was from Scottish Women in Sport - what more can we do to get more women involved in volunteering?
This is such a big question to answer! There can be a lot of pressure on one person who just ‘does it all’ – if they aren’t available, will the activity still happen?
Remember to think of the volunteers at your club as human with their own responsibilities (some have to drive 20-odd miles to get there!) and offer to help spread the load.
Volunteering starts friendships and makes a difference – no matter how small the role e.g. tidying up at the end of a session.
I guess my advice is to not be afraid to ask the question if you’re involved in the kid drop off. Start the conversation. It took me 2 years before I asked the question but I’m so glad I did – look where I am now. 10 years ago if you’d told me I’d be SWIS Volunteer of the Year I’d say ‘Get a grip!’.
What advice would you give to young volunteers or those starting their volunteer journey?
Give it a go! Giving your time to do something different helps you discover who you are – it’s definitely shown me what I can do.
Volunteering gives young people such a good grounding to step into a job interview. It helps to build confidence and self-esteem plus employers can see that you care about something if you’ve given time to something.
You may not have thought about a career in sport but it opens lots of doors. Even if you don’t want to work in sport, volunteering can benefit your career. A journalist could be a club secretary or an accountant could be a treasurer!
What are your next steps/goals?
I just want to keep doing what I am doing. The next 3 years as Chair of SCS are very exciting as the strategy focuses our work on connecting, developing and championing club sport – something I do in my every day life. It’s a clear way for us to make a difference.
I don’t really have a long-term plan – I just see what comes along. I certainly didn’t have a plan to become Chair of Scottish ClubSport! Or for getting into my other roles either. Just attended a few meetings.
I’ve never had a plan but I’m enjoying it - each day is different.
Take the Next Step in your Own Volunteer Journey
If Jackie’s story has inspired you to take the next step on your volunteering journey, we’re here to help.
To volunteer within the ClubSport Network, a community sports club, or on our Young People’s Working Group, contact National Development Manager, Gary Grieve today on [email protected] / 07528 719350.
We’d also be interested to hear from anyone with the skills to contribute to the Scottish ClubSport Board as we Connect, Develop, and Champion the role of club sport in Scotland. Roles will be advertised on our website in early 2024.
To find out more about Scottish ClubSport, visit https://www.scottishclubsport.co.uk
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