Focus on female volunteers

Professor Rochelle Eime. (Supplied) 244478_01

By Alesha Capone

Academics from Victoria University and Federation University will explore how community sports clubs can better recruit, train and keep female volunteers.

The study has been funded by the state government’s Office for Women in Sport and Recreation’s Change Our Game research grants program, which aims to identify barriers to women and girls engaging in sport and exercise.

Led by professor Rochelle Eime, an expert in community sport participation, the researchers will interview key stakeholders from sports clubs such as presidents, team managers and co-ordinators, umpires and committee members.

“We want to understand the volunteer landscape of both the capacity of clubs to have volunteers supporting women and girls, but also support for women and girls to be volunteers in sport,” professor Eime said.

She said the study would build upon previous research and conversations with the sports industry including cricket, soccer and netball organisations.

Professor Eime said that while participation for women and girls in sport was increasing, her academic team’s previous research has shown that they are much less likely to have many volunteer roles in sport.

She said one reason for this was because of COVID-19 constantly causing changes to rules and guidelines, leaving club administrators “over-burdened”.

Professor Eime also said that sometimes boys and men received preferential treatment in traditionally male-dominated sports when it came to volunteer roles, such as coaching.

Professor Eime – who also plays tennis and golf and volunteers at her twin sons’ football team and tennis club – said sport was beneficial for physical, mental and social health.

“I look forward to working with the sports industry and developing strategies that the sector can take on board to improve the experience of playing and volunteering in sport for women and girls,” she said.

The researchers expect to have the findings of their study available next year.