The author is a currently registered on the MSc in Research (Sports Economics) at University College Cork.
There is an ever-growing body of literature concerning the topics of volunteerism and volunteer motivation in both sporting and non-sporting spheres, with volunteers being the lifeblood of various sporting organisations throughout the world.
In research conducted by Sport Ireland (2019), it was identified that 46% of the Irish population regularly participate in sporting activities. The report also revealed that 12% of the respondents regularly volunteered in sport, while a further 40% reported that they had volunteered in the past.
While previous studies have sought to identify the motives of volunteers in various sports in numerous geographic locations, such as in UK swimming clubs (Burgham and Downward, 2005), in an American soccer program (Busser and Carruthers, 2010) and in Australian community rugby clubs (Hoye et al., 2008), there is an academic gap investigating the motivations of volunteer football coaches in Ireland specifically.
It has been well documented that volunteers play a key role in the provision of community-based sports (Cuskelly et al., 1998; Cuskelly, 2004). The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study (2011) identified that “unpaid volunteers made up 97% of the total workforce in junior sport”, with volunteers typically being a parent of a child involved in the sport. Further to this, it has been identified that volunteers involved in sports were likely to have children involved at the time of the research, or to have had previous experience in the relevant sport (Burgham and Downward, 2005; Busser and Carruthers, 2010).
Considerable attention has been given to identifying the motivational factors which encourage volunteers to engage in volunteer activity. Various methods have been adopted to identify motives of volunteers. Based on previous survey-based studies conducted on the topic of volunteer motivation, Cnaan and Goldberg-Glen (1991) identified 28 motives which they considered to be the most important.
Clary et al. (1998) developed the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI), designed to assess the six functions which they hypothesised to be served by volunteerism - values, understanding, social, career, protective and enhancement. These functions have been used in many studies since, including in assessing the functional motivations of volunteers in a municipal park and recreation agency’s soccer program in America (Busser and Carruthers, 2010), which adopted the VFI, albeit with some minor changes made to reflect the sporting context.
This area deserved further exploration and I hope to be able to extend the literature and understand the motivations of volunteer football coaches in Ireland today.
- Burgham, M., & Downward, P. (2005). Why volunteer, time to volunteer? A case study from swimming. Managing leisure, 10(2), 79-93.
- Busser, J. A., & Carruthers, C. P. (2010). Youth sport volunteer coach motivation. Managing leisure, 15(1-2), 128-139.
- Clary, E. G., Snyder, M., Ridge, R. D., Copeland, J., Stukas, A. A., Haugen, J., & Miene, P. (1998). Understanding and assessing the motivations of volunteers: A functional approach. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(6), 1516.
- Cnaan, R. A., & Goldberg-Glen, R. S. (1991). Measuring motivation to volunteer in human services. The journal of applied behavioral science, 27(3), 269-284.
- Cuskelly, G. (2004). Volunteer retention in community sport organisations. European sport management quarterly, 4(2), 59-76.
- Cuskelly, G., McIntyre, N., & Boag, A. (1998). A longitudinal study of the development of organizational commitment amongst volunteer sport administrators. Journal of Sport Management, 12(3), 181-202.
- Hoye, R., Cuskelly, G., Taylor, T., & Darcy, S. (2008). Volunteer motives and retention in community sport: A study of Australian rugby clubs. Australian journal on volunteering, 13(2), 40.
- Sport Ireland. (2019). Irish Sport Monitor: Annual Report 2019. [online] Available at: https://www.sportireland.ie/sites/default/files/media/document/2020-09/irish-sports-monitor-2019-report-lower-res.pdf [Accessed: 30 November 2020]
- Walsh, J., Tannehill, D. and Woods, C.B. (2011). The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study (CSPPA) – Volunteer Study. Research Report No 2. School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University and the The Irish Sports Council, Dublin, Ireland.