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Volunteering in Community Sports Associations: A Literature Review

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This review paper focuses on volunteers in community sports associations (CSAs). Such associations are a major context of sports volunteering across Europe, Canada and Australia—the countries in which a multitude of sports clubs are represented by governing bodies of sport. Their importance is not only in the large numbers of volunteers involved but also in the benefits of such associations to society. The clearest of these is the provision of opportunities to take part in sport, at a cost subsidized by the efforts of volunteers and thus contributing to physical health. However, the benefits extend more broadly to the quality of life and the rewards the volunteers themselves receive from association. Many community sports associations have a significant number of members who, while they do not actually play sport themselves, provide opportunities for others and also enjoy the social rewards of membership.The review is structured in the following sections:Introduction.The number of sports clubs, club membership, and volunteering.Explaining a trend toward individual participation in sport and volunteering, and a reduction in the number of CSAs.Conceptualizing community sports associations and volunteering.Motivations of sports volunteers.Challenges facing community sports clubs’ volunteers and leaders.Management and leadership of volunteers in CSAs: Applying a rational systems approach, and the pros and cons of formality.Community sports associations and social capital.The relationship between CSAs and event volunteering.Conclusions.Any one section can be read independently, although each is presented in a logical sequence and cross-references the others. Thus, the aim of this broad-ranging review is to introduce the reader to community sports associations as an example of small, volunteer-led associations, and to make links between academic theory in this area and the more general study of volunteering. The breadth of the review allows readers to follow-up supporting references on individual topics. The author’s extensive experience, primarily of England and Europe, has inevitably led to more examples being drawn from these areas; however, broader international work is also incorporated. It is hoped this review will stimulate readers’ thinking about volunteering in their own country.

Affiliations: 1: Management School, University of Sheffield SheffieldEngland, UK


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