Celebrating National Volunteering Week, IWA-Sport spoke with Para Athletics Public Relations Officer, John Franks and the work he does to help promote the games.

My Role:

I am the Public Relations Officer (PRO) and Training Co-Ordinator for the Para Athletics section.

What I do as PRO and Training Co-Ordinator:

I send out communications about upcoming training events, updates on competitions, results and general information about what’s going on recently within the Para Athletics community in our newsletter. I also answer queries pertaining to my role and tie in with others on other topics. On the training side of things, I plan and schedule training sessions to further athlete development.

Why I decided to volunteer as Para Athletics PRO:

For the PRO role, I had been doing the same role for my running club Ballyskenach AC and Tipperary Warriors Junior Multi-Sport Club, so when the position was available I thought I could add to what I’ve done previously and went for it. For the Training Co-Ordinator role, I really enjoy coaching so it was a great opportunity to further my coaching skills.

The best part about volunteering for me:

I really enjoy spreading the positive news of how Para Athletics is progressing. All the improvements athletes have made throughout the year and how bright the future of the sport really is.

Why it’s important to volunteer and give back:

There are no sports without volunteers, we could always use more people helping out. When you see athletes competing and how happy they are to receive a medal or even a personal best. Families showing their support for athletes who are giving 100%. I have a great sense of pride that I am a part of it.

Some challenges I face as a volunteer and how I overcome them:

I suppose the hardest part of the roles have been getting to know everyone and how to move forward. I was relatively new to Para Athletics when I took over so it was a little daunting. Finding the right information to improve what had been previously done to sending out a newsletter, which I hoped everyone enjoys reading. Also adapting my coaching experience to focus on a very individualised basis. One size doesn’t fit all in this section.

My patience was probably my best asset to overcome the challenges I have faced in the roles. I have made plenty of mistakes along the way but not letting it deter me from what the overall plan was. I knew I was not going to get everything right first time, allowing me to relax and not put so much pressure on myself.

What I say to encourage others to volunteer:

Volunteering is fantastic, everyone is so helpful and encouraging. It is a bit scary at first but in any organisation there are always plenty of experience floating around to calm any nerves. Any time you can give to a volunteering role is appreciated and does make a massive difference in the area you are in.

Para Athletics

Para Athletics

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