As part of International Volunteers’ Day (5 December), Ulster Rugby is showcasing one of our outstanding rugby volunteers and highlighting an example of the great work carried out by rugby volunteers across the province.
Jonathon Reid: Portadown RFC
Roles: General Volunteer/ Social Media / Club Youth Representative on the Ulster Youth Council / Hoping to coach this season too
Tell us about your roles at the club.
I started playing Rugby at Portadown when I was in P7, and I continue to play at Portadown in the Senior Squad.
When I was a youth player, I started helping out around the club where I could. I started helping out with washing team kits to helping out at ‘Club Force Day’ where we got the club ready for the upcoming season.
Recently I have become even more involved within the club; I currently work as part of the social media teams. Each week, I have to put posts up on the club’s social media streams for upcoming games, training schedules, match reports and update news. This has allowed me to link up with the various teams to get the up-to-date information and scores to ensure the supporters are kept up to date with scores and results. It is quite time-consuming, especially after games on a Saturday and Sunday running around getting the scores! During lockdown, we also started player profiles to keep the supporters and players engaged with the club. It was a worthwhile project but there was more admin work to this than most would believe.
I have also been part of a team to update the club website. I took the lead on the code side of this project, as with my degree I have some knowledge of web design and how to get the website set up to make it the most modern and user friendly. Updating graphics, layout, sponsor pages, coach profiles, there was a lot to do and it’s 99% finished now but just getting the finishing touches to it! Working in a team to get the various parts of the site ready for the start of the season was vital to get it finished but with good communication, it was worth it!
I have also helped to organise various Under-20s teams for tournaments during the past few seasons. Working the Clubs’ CRO, I was able to message around to get a number of players who I was familiar with to get a number of players confirmed. As there was a number of tournaments on Wednesday Evenings, it was important to keep the players engaged throughout the year so some sessions during the other Wednesdays kept them playing, especially those who weren’t able to play at the weekends for the senior teams. These were very successful as a number of players caught the rugby bug again and are now playing more regularly for the club, which is a positive for the club to keep the younger players engaged to keep them involved with the club!
I was also asked to be a part of the Ulster Rugby Youth Forum to represent young players and volunteers involved in rugby across the province. The forum discusses issues and concerns affecting young people involved in rugby. These issues and ideas for possible solutions are fed back to Ulster Rugby. I feel this has been a worthwhile group to be involved in and some great work has been completed as a part of this forum. Working as part of a wider team has also allowed my debating and conversational skills to develop, this experience has helped me with my new job as Stranmillis Student Union President.
All these roles have improved my organisational and communication skills as well as my confidence.
In the upcoming year, I am going to work on my coaching badges and help to support the club’s youth teams as much as possible as well as continuing with my other roles within the club.
Why did you get involved in volunteering?
I wanted to volunteer in the club as they have always supported me as a player so I wanted to give back when I could, so starting off with helping tidying the club was a good way to stop. Since then, I have tried to support the club as best as possible, through volunteering.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
I have enjoyed being a part of the Ulster Youth Forum. I feel like I am making a difference within Ulster Rugby as this forum gives a voice to youth players and volunteers involved in rugby across Ulster.
What inspired you to be a volunteer?
Seeing how other people have enjoyed and developed through volunteering made me interested to see if I would be able to volunteer. Since starting, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and really want to keep being involved as much as possible.
Do you have a particular volunteering highlight?
Seeing the online engagement with the player profiles was a personal highlight as many current and ex-players and volunteers were sending me their old stories, which allowed a range of people to reminisce and remember old stories.
What have you learned from your experience of volunteering?
Teamwork makes the dream work – it’s a silly saying but it rings very true. When working in the different areas of the club, you communicate with the other teams to make sure that the correct information is being put out. Working in a team also helps spread the workload so the work is being created to a high standard and on time.