“Volunteerism is a form of helping in which people actively seek out opportunities to assist others in need, make considerable and continued commitment to provide assistance and sustain these commitments over extended periods of time often at considerable personal cost” (Snyder, 2001). In effect, volunteerism is generally considered as offering service without expecting rewards in return. Volunteers have no obligations to those they assist neither do they have any bonds with them. On the contrary, while you are not remunerated for volunteering, it is not true that you get absolutely nothing in return. Volunteering is one of the most rewarding and challenging opportunities one can ever encounter. It gives you the chance to bring a change in the people around you, and in the process, it also changes you for the better. This article will discuss the benefits of volunteerism to individuals, communities, corporate bodies and nations as a whole.
The value of volunteerism is becoming increasingly well documented. Its contribution to economic growth and a nation’s GDP is very high. In the United Kingdom for instance, it is reported that over 20 million volunteers every year, give more than 100 million hours every week to acts of volunteerism. It is estimated that, the economic value of their activities in various sectors of their economy is worth more than £40 billion.
At both national and international levels, sports events have also become an area in which participation of volunteers are effectively resourced for human capital at a minimal cost to event organisers. The 2019 Rabat African Games used the services of 3,000 volunteers. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games had more than 110,000 volunteers and the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games had more than 13,000 volunteers. It would have cost the host nations a fortune if all the volunteers had been paid for their services on those occasions. Successful sporting events largely depend on people who offer their time, skills and energy in various sectors to the organisation of the games.
Benefits of Volunteerism
Some of the benefits of volunteerism are:
- Equips people with knowledge, skills, networking opportunities and understanding to play an effective role in public life
- Builds social capital
- Contributes to social cohesion and solidarity
- Improves mental and physical health
- Strengthens communities after crisis
- Enhances the resume of the individual
- Provides valuable economic benefits to society and
- Enables individuals to realize their full potential.
It is on record that some of the volunteers who offered voluntary services during CAN 2008 in Ghana are using the skills acquired to serve Ghana sports in various capacities. For instance, Mr. Ian Osei Owusu, who was recruited as a volunteer, got interested in volunteerism and further acquired skills in the field. This gave him the opportunity to become the Volunteers Coordinator for the 2018 Women’s AFCON and is likely to be considered for the African Games.
Another person is Mr. Michael K Fordjour, a one time Marketing Volunteer Team Lead for marketing Task Force CAN 2008. He also volunteered as a Pitchside assistant for the Africa Hockey Games hosted by Ghana in 2009 and is currently the Head of Beneficiaries Management Unit at the Youth Employment Agency (YEA).
The 13th African Games being a multi sport event will also offer an opportunity to recruit, train and deploy volunteers in various sectors like accreditation, accommodation, transportation, security, media, catering, protocol, and many more.
Imagine how comfortable an athlete would feel when he / she arrives at the Kotoka International Airport for the 13th African Games and finds a volunteer willing and ready to welcome and assist him / her to Ghana for the Games or a Francophone official in need of a language translator and finds an ever smiling volunteer ready to assist at no cost.
The hosting and organisation of the 13th African Games will require the recruitment, training and deployment of volunteers whose knowledge and service to society will enrich the social capital of the Ghanaian society and produce role models with the spirit of volunteerism and patriotism.
It is the belief that the spirit of volunteerism will be rekindled before, during and after the African Games when many Ghanaians; young and old, male and female; have had the opportunity to be recruited, trained and acted as volunteers.
With the rekindling of the volunteerism spirit in Ghanaians that the African Games will also be achieving, one could argue that Professionals, National Service personnel and Ghanaians in general will be willing to serve in deprived areas in the country, which would contribute to the total development of the Nation. This could also be one of the Legacies for hosting the African Games.
The African Games will therefore act as a tool for rekindling the spirit of volunteerism in Ghana.