With this week being #NationalVolunteerWeek 2021, we will be highlighting the work our outstanding volunteers do on a daily basis, making our projects what they are.
Up first, we have Disability Team Manager, Anthony Baker…
What role do you play at the Wakefield Trinity Community Foundation?
I am the Team Manager for all the different disability sides included across the Foundation’s brand, this being the PDRL, LDRL and now the Wheelchair side. Throughout a typical week, I make sure that all the coaches have equipment at their disposal, venues are booked and set up, officials are arranged and generally making sure that our participants get the most out of the experience as they possibly can.
Why do you volunteer at the Foundation? And how did you get involved in that?
It was back in 2018 when I was playing with the Rugby League All-Stars – who work a lot with children with autism – and I spoke with the Head of Foundation, Craig Shepherd, and explained that I wanted to find an opportunity to combine my love of charity work with Rugby League. So, when I spoke to Craig, I turned up thinking I was just getting involved in the PDRL and ended up taking a senior role across the who programme and haven’t looked back since.
Is Disability Rugby League your passion then?
Absolutely! You will probably see on the respective social media sites that instead of trying to promote what these players can’t do, whereas I like to instil the mentality of what they can do. We don’t think of them as disabled, they are enabled as we give them the opportunity to get fun out of sport. We have players coming down that think that they can’t do all things a professional can do, doesn’t mean that they can’t play the sport.
You have given a lot to Disability Rugby League but what has it given you in return?
It has introduced me to individuals that would have never had met, who are now lifelong friends. It has given me more of an understanding about the little things that we do, can make a huge difference on the players and the coaches out on that field. Just little things like getting a new kit, it means the world to these players, so it has given me a lot back over the years.
Has volunteering given you a platform to succeed later in your life?
Yes, definitely! Through my full-time job, I work for the council on business engagement, and I think that my work with Wakefield has given me more of an understanding of how to engage with different individuals with different lifestyles. I think down the line, if it doesn’t work out down at the council, I can see a career in disability sports.
Has volunteering reignited your passion in Rugby League?
I was drastically falling out of love with Rugby League until I discovered the disability game, which has reignited the passion to the point where I have taken on two extra teams during my time here.
If someone is interested in volunteering – why should they get involved?
Once you realise the difference you make by doing the little things, it has huge rewards. Getting paid for something doesn’t mean it’s rewarding, and I could do this to earn money, but I don’t because I can’t see myself anywhere else. Money isn’t everything, seeing a smile on these participants’ faces and getting new people involved is a wage in itself.