For Loren Cooney, volunteering is a family affair.
Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) is thanking its 8,000 dedicated, hard-working volunteers that make playing football in our region possible this week as part of National Volunteer Week 2020.
National Volunteer Week, from 18 to 24 May, is an annual celebration which acknowledges the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. This year the theme is “Changing Communities. Changing Lives.”
Cooney started her association with Macquarie Football club Southern Lakes United FC when she began volunteering in the canteen almost 10 years ago.
After a short time away from the club, Cooney returned to join the Hurricanes officially as part of the committee. This year is Cooney’s fourth as registrar.
It is truly a family effort at Southern Lakes. Cooney’s partner is the club president, her father the former president while her mother works in the canteen.
“I basically do a bit of everything,” Cooney said.
“I’m the main contact for the club. I do a bit of the social media as well. My registrar role is based around the recruitment and retention of players.
“Four years ago when I came on board we had about 60 players. At last check we’ve now got about 130. That’s a massive achievement for our club and it has been really good trying to get that growth.
“But I would never be as successful as I am without the support of my committee. It definitely takes a village to run our club.”
When Cooney started volunteering in the canteen it was simply to get out of having to watch her brother play, she says with a laugh.
Like many dedicated volunteers, Cooney works full-time. With work and family commitments it can sometimes be difficult to juggle volunteering. But Cooney said it was a sacrifice worth making.
“We don’t have any kids of our own at the club or anything,” Cooney said.
“It’s just about getting out there and seeing the kids participate in the sport we love. And seeing how happy it makes them and their smiling faces.
“There’s countless hours and stress that you wouldn’t expect in any paid job. Sometimes you have to deal with tough things that you think to yourself ‘I don’t get paid enough to deal with this.’
“Practically you’re home from work and straight onto the computer, especially in rego season. Any spare time I’m straight onto the computer.
“But it is definitely worth it seeing how happy the kids are and older people are playing the sport we love.”
Southern Lakes isn’t just a family affair for Cooney but also a family club. She makes the effort to try and learn every player’s name each season. It’s a small but personal touch, one that shows the tight-knit spirit of the club.
“Our club is basically a big family,” Cooney said.
“Last year I only forgot one or two [names]. It’s a bit tougher to do at the moment but when we get back I’ll be trying to remember the new names and put names to faces.”
While football will look different this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cooney said she and her club were eager to get back out on the pitch when the time was right.
“Obviously this season is going to be different. But god yeah, we definitely can’t wait,” she said.
“It won’t be the same. It might be a bit strange. But as long as the kids are outside and safe and getting some fresh air. We’d have a lot of upset kids if there was no football.
“That’s the biggest thing. Making sure it’s safe when [football] comes back for the kids so they can go back to enjoying it and loving playing the game.”
Not sure how you can help on the weekend? Touch base with your club and ask.
Coaching and managing teams
Cleaning hard surfaces
Refilling soap in bathrooms