Kniepertien: volunteers – Steenwijker Courant

They are the lubricant of society and associations: volunteers. People who carry out work without financial intentions, so that a club – let me keep it at that for a while – continues to function. There is no club without volunteers. Volunteers are the people behind the bar and in the kitchen, from the cleaning inside and outside, people who in whatever way ensure that others can practice their hobby. Volunteers allow children to exercise and the elderly to keep moving.

When I stopped playing football actively (it is best to put the word active in quotes) I felt that now that I had more free time, I should do extra volunteer work for my football club. After all, the club had ensured that I could play football carefree for so many years. Now it was my turn to do a little more for the club and its still active members. I worked more canteen shifts on Saturday mornings (which made me happy!) and did extra work in the field of club magazine, PR and communication and other odd jobs.

Yet that is not as obvious as it seems; When our team gave up the Olde Veste Magic Six, there were football players I never saw again in the complex or in the canteen, let alone volunteering for free. There is another, also positive side to the story: volunteering combats loneliness and aimlessness and it gives you a feeling of being useful. Whoever is alone, through whatever circumstance, has a purpose in life by helping a club. You meet other people through this; not infrequently I have seen friendships for life develop in this way! It’s simple: if you’re new to a city after moving, sign up at a club to be active there (as an athlete or musician or stage actor) or to help out (as a driver, handyman or supervisor). I can tell you: it gives satisfaction to the depths of your toes.

We live in a world where this is no longer so obvious. Quite a few clubs suffer from a shortage of volunteers, which means that others have to take on more tasks to keep the club running. There are already clubs that close the cafeteria at certain times, simply because there is no one to occupy the bar. Other clubs require their members to periodically assist – otherwise they can buy it off with money. There are schools where students can earn education credits by doing voluntary work. I’m a bit ambivalent about that; there is a certain form of obligation behind it. But it is at least a start: teach children to help others on a voluntary basis. That will make them better people for sure.

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