Clubs need volunteers. It’s as simple as that. Without them, those people who give so selflessly of their time to help the clubs run across all aspects of the organisation, many would simply cease to exist. Woden Valley are blessed with several such individuals, but one that has stood out is Gemma Jackson.
Jackson has been involved with the club since her eldest children were in Years 1 and 3 and they signed up to play the beautiful game, choosing Woden Valley as it was close to home and a club that was close to her heart.
“Woden Valley was where both my husband and I played,” Jackson revealed. “After one year as a parent I became a coach and then over a number of years I coached, managed and then joined the committee. This is my fifth year coaching my daughter’s team and third year on the committee as VP girls 10-12.”
Five years’ service has seen Jackson become an integral part of the Woden Valley set up and it’s the close-knit community feel that has kept her returning year on year, helping facilitate the next generation of football stars at the club.
“I would say that the committee has been so supportive over the years – we have some amazing committee members and volunteers,” Jackson said. “But for me it is all about the kids. Supporting kids to try their best in a safe environment and watching them grow is amazing. I love being part of the WVSC community.
“I would advise any kid to take up the sport. Give it a go. Try your best. Respect the ref. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends and have fun. And to parents I would say, be there, be positive – it doesn’t matter whether we win or lose but having a supportive and positive parent on the sidelines is priceless.”
Woden Valley Administrator Shiree Yap knows all about the qualities that Gemma brings to her role and ow vital it is for clubs to have people like Gemma who are willing to put others before themselves to help kids enjoy playing the game we all adore.
“A club of size could not operate without our incredible volunteers, from our committee members, our canteen and BBQ helpers, setting up fields, sorting our equipment, our coaches and managers and our supporters,’ Yap said.
“All her volunteer work is so valuable to retaining girls in the sport, which has so many benefits in terms of their mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
“It is our volunteers that create an amazing experience for our players and our community.
With all Gemma’s work with girls in soccer at Woden she is also a great role model for young girls and women to get involved and stay involved with the club and community.”
It’s that latter point which is vitally important as statistics show young females are more likely to drop sport as they grow older. And Jackson is acutely aware that people such as herself, women in important roles and playing or administering the sport they love, are of huge importance to young and impressionable juniors.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” Jackson said. “This was definitely the case for me growing up and I want to be the change maker. I want my daughter and her generation to have the experience that wasn’t available to me.
“I want to create a safe space where the girls can be confident try their best on the soccer field and take that confidence to other parts of their lives.”
It’s something she has been doing at Woden for over half a decade. And its something she will continue to do for many years more.