Welcome to the Community Sport and Recreation Awards 2022: Volunteer of the Year.
This award has been created to appreciate all the hours of commitment that volunteers give to improve the lives of people in their community. Volunteers are the glue that holds the sector together, and the work they have done over the past 12 months during the Covid-19 pandemic has been essential to maintaining the fabric of our sector.
Entries for the Volunteer of the Year category are now closed. The finalists for the 2022 Volunteer of the Year category are:
Sajid Hussain – Muslim Sports Foundation
As well as his full-time job, Sajid Hussain is Trustee and Chair of the Muslim Sports Foundation, borne out of his motivation to give back to the communities he is passionate about and make a difference.
He is committed to promoting an accessible, proactive and healthy lifestyle for all members of the Muslim community and ensuring that sport and physical activity continues to thrive at the grassroots level. Sajid’s outstanding dedication has included putting governance, financial and operational infrastructures in place for the charity, and building a positive relationship with Sport England – Muslim Sports Foundation’s funding partner.
Often to the detriment of his personal time, he works hard to help the charity make an impact, demonstrated by the 31 projects he has developed across the country in the last six months, while exposing the Muslim Sports Foundation’s work in 14 cities.
Martin Cassidy – Omagh Futsal Club
The volunteer chairman of Omagh Football Club, Martin Cassidy gives over 30 hours of his time every week, where his responsibilities include: administration, fundraising, management, coaching, web design, social media management, graphic design, marketing, first aid, media and events coordination, amongst others.
When the pandemic started, all of the club’s sources of income stopped, at a time when the club was enjoying great success – it was on course to represent Northern Ireland in the UEFA Champions League later that year. They had also planned to expand, launching other developments to increase participation for more groups. To tackle this, Martin did an immense amount of work and led the club to be the first in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Irish Football Association’s People and Clubs Accreditation, which will help the club sustain and grow futsal opportunities in future years.
During the pandemic, Martin personally delivered hot food to elderly isolated residents at Christmas. He also managed and delivered a Futsal Coach Education programme, provided further opportunities for women, children and those from ethnic minority groups to play futsal, and a men’s Walking Futsal programme.
Melanie Reilly – Old Emanuel Rugby Club
For the past 15 years, Melanie Reilly has been volunteering at Old Emanuel Rugby Club, making an impact on a vast number of people in her community.
Over the past year and throughout the pandemic, she has been involved in a number of projects. She started the ‘Pass it Back and Conversion’ project, collecting members’ boots and trainers (especially girls’), and stepped in for the Lions chairman throughout the pandemic – organising COVID compliant measures and a return to play. This was all while undertaking her normal Safeguarding and Liaison role with the women’s team. Melanie also organised five collections for Kingston Foodbank to help those in need, and organised member donations for Kingston Churches Against Homelessness.
Melanie contacted the RFU to see what she would need to do to help someone who had just had gender reassignment surgery and wanted to join the club. She ended up putting in lots of hard work to write new policies and make practical changes to the changing and toilet facilities, as well as preparing the relevant age group players and coaches to make the new person feel welcome.