Give it up!

12th August 2005 at 01:00
Vikki Bowker thought that cricket was an old man's game. But she was bowled over when she decided to volunteer for the local club

Vikki Bowker, 23, has been a Year 5 teacher at Padiham primary school, Lancashire, for two years Volunteer role Secretary, scorer and coach at Barnoldswick cricket club, in the Ribblesdale league.

Why cricket?

It was never meant to happen. As a girl I hated cricket and thought it was a boring, old man's game. But I was good friends with the previous secretary and used to visit the club regularly. The chairman asked me to be a Millennium volunteer, and it took on a life of its own. Then last season the secretary moved away.

How much time do you give?

It varies. There's obviously more to do in the summer, and school comes first. The minimum is about eight hours a week, but scoring can take up to six hours.

Do you receive any training?

Most of what I do I learn as I go. I have done some child protection and equity training and I have gained my first coaching certificate.

What do you enjoy the most?

It's good when a plan comes together and you can see the young players gaining from it. It's also great when something I have said or done has increased somebody else's passion for the sport.

Iand the least?

I hate all the hoops I have to jump through to get funding. More money should be made available for sport. If clubs can't find volunteers to do the work, they can't move forward and eventually they will fold. It irritates me that some people who benefit from the club put nothing back into it, and don't understand what goes on behind the scenes.

Do your skills cross over?

One of the reasons I have stuck with the secretary's role is that, as a teacher, I know all about paperwork, and I know that most of it is necessary. And there's an obvious connection between teaching and coaching under-11s.

Has volunteering changed you?

I now have a passion for sport, not just cricket, that I would not have dreamed of as a teenager. I wasn't into sport at all at school, but now I'm coaching and I'm a PE co-ordinator.

Do you encourage others to volunteer?

I spend a lot of time encouraging others to get involved. Recently a 15-year-old who had been on our summer school last year agreed to help with the younger players this year. We get more much-needed help, he gives something back to cricket and he benefits at the same time.

www.lancashiresport.org.uk; www.yearofthevolunteer.org

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