Friday, July 21, 2006

Volunteering at the Rogers Cup (Toronto)

Many sporting events depend on the dedication and commitment of volunteers. These events vary in size, from your local softball leagues to global events such as the Olympics.

Tennis Canada relies on volunteers to help with the Rogers Cup. For the Toronto event, there are approximately 900-1,000 volunteers spread over more than 30 different committees. Some of the volunteers are very visible, from your ballcrew kids on the tennis courts during the matches or ushers showing ticket holders to their seats; other volunteers work behind the scenes, from parking attendents helping direct people from their parking spots to the stadium or pass control personnel to keep unauthorized people away from sensitive areas.

While their roles with each of these committees may differ, all the volunteers have a common bond; they are all energetic, enthusiastic, and team oriented tennis fans who have an interest in assisting at one of the premier summer sporting events in Toronto. With proceeds of the tournament earmarked toward growing the game of tennis in Canada, the efforts of all the volunteers today help to improve the game of tennis in Canada tomorrow.

While it is too late to apply to volunteer at this year's tennis tournament, there is always opportunity to volunteer in the future. If you are interested in volunteering, there are some criteria that you need to be aware of as part of the volunteer commitment. These are:

  1. Commiting to work a minimum of 7 shifts which includes a minimum of 42 hours throughout the 9 days of the Tournament.
  2. New volunteers should be prepared to attend a Volunteer Fair which includes an interview.
  3. Attend a specific committee training session closer to the event.

Note that some committees actually start work prior to the start of the tournament. As an example, the committee that I am in, the Transportation Committee, starts up three days prior to the first day of the Tournament to pick up people that come in early (i.e. qualifiers, or players wishing to come to Toronto earlier to practise).

As a volunteer, there are tangible and intangible benefits for everyone involved. Tennis Canada provides the following items to all its volunteers:

  1. A tournament uniform which must be worn while you are on duty.
  2. A meal voucher for each shift worked.
  3. Free on site parking in a designated area.
  4. A photo badge identifying you as a volunteer entitles you to site admission and access to a specific volunteer seating area for the duration of the tournament.
  5. The equivalent of a pair of tickets for up to 5 sessions in the Centre Court Stadium (depending on the number of shifts worked).
  6. Invitation to an informal party, to be held after play on the final Sunday of the tournament, to celebrate the success of the event and for all your hard work.

While the tangible items are a nice gesture, I feel that the intangible benefits is what really keeps our volunteers coming back year after year. While I've only been volunteering for ten years, there are other volunteers that have done this much longer than I have. For example, for one of the co-committee heads my committee, this year marks the 30th year that she has been volunteering.

While the list of intangible benefits are numerous, here is a few that I can think of off the top of my head:

  • It is a great way to meet people who share similar interests
  • It is an opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise with others, along with picking up new skills.
  • It is also an opportunity for you to gain confidence and self-esteem.
  • Depending on what you are looking for, volunteering can involve a large degree of responsibility. With this opportunity. one can exercise leadership, develop problem-solving skills and be creative.

If you are interested in tennis and live in the Toronto-area, perhaps you might want to volunteer in the future. If so, visit http://www.tenniscanada.com, pick the appropriate tournament for the calender year (either the men's or women's tournament, which ever one is in Toronto) and then goto the Tournament Information link. On the page that opens, you will find a link that takes you to the Volunteer program. If you have problems finding this link, feel free to contact me and I can point you in the right direction.

For those not in the Toronto area, many local tennis tournaments may need the assistance of volunteers to help with their events. For those in Canada, you can search for a listing of these tournaments at http://tenniscanada.com while those of you in the US can search through the USTA site at http://www.usta.com/getinvolved/default.sps


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1 comment:

christy. said...

Thanks for the post, I'm thinking about volunteering (: