With Volunteers Week in full flow, today’s focus is on event volunteering and the outstanding activities that happen across the sport all year round.
In this article, Welsh Athletics stalwart Joyce Tomala shares her experiences:
I began volunteering 33 years ago when my son joined Torfaen AC. Since that time I have undertaken numerous, varied roles at club, regional, Welsh and British levels. I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to a number of European Countries as a direct result of my involvement with Athletics. Over the years I have met many people who have become friends and colleagues. One of the many highlights for me is seeing athletes who started out as youngsters developing along the competition pathway to become elite athletes representing Wales and GB.
I am currently Midland Coordinator and Finals Coordinator for the UK Youth Development League and I manage the U17 & U20 South East Wales team in the UAG of the YDL. As well as presently undertaking the role of East Wales Regional Athletics Council Secretary, Welsh Athletics Member for the region and Regional Welfare Officer I also represent the regional on, WA General Council and Track and Field committee.
My first volunteering role was as team manager for Torfaen AC’s Young Athletes League team. Over the years I have been club Secretary and club Chairman. For several years I coached sprints and hurdles at the club. I also became a track official but soon realised that I preferred officiating on the field and so became a field official. As my administration roles in athletics increased I recognised the fact that I couldn’t devote the team required to coaching my athletes. It was with a heavy heart that I gave up coaching. When Torfaen AC became Cwmbran Harriers I was honoured to be awarded life membership of the club. I was then approached to become involved in regional team management for Gwent AAA. Shortly afterwards I became County Secretary, then County Chairman. One of the first experiences I had as meeting director was at the County Track and Field Championships.
As a direct result of this I was asked to become a Meeting Director for The Athletics Association of Wales Track & Field Championships. Succeeding Gwilym Evans (my mentor) as Track and Field Secretary was a daunting task but thanks to Gwilym and others It was a role I enjoyed for a number of years. After stepping down as Secretary I became Chairman of Track & Field. I remain a committed, proactive member of that committee.
Following my election to the Track and Field Committee I became a team manager for AAW. This role included managing and leading the Welsh Celtic Games team for 16 years. My Involvement with Welsh Athletics team management allowed me the opportunity to travel to Holland, Belgium and Malta as under 20 Team Manager on a number of occasions as well as Scotland and Loughborough as team manager for the senior team. I was delighted to be asked to take on the role of Team Leader for the Welsh Athletics Team at the Inaugural Commonwealth Youth games in Edinburgh in 2000.
I accepted the invitation to be Meeting Manager at LEAP (the Loughborough European Athletics Permit Meeting) on a number of occasions and also assumed the role of Meeting Director at the Loughborough International a few times.
In 2003 I was fortunate enough to travel to Sweden where I was a represented of UK Athletics at a joint working party investigating ‘Engagement and Retention of Athletes’, ‘Competition’ and ‘Recruitment and Retention of Officials’. Here we are 14 years later and we’re still seeking answers to those very questions. In 2005 I was part of the British management team at the European Youth Olympics in Italy, where we heard the news that London had been awarded the 2012 Olympics.
In 2016 I retired as Headteacher of a Junior School in Newport. Whilst working as a teacher in Newport I helped organise the extremely successful Newport Schools’ Athletics Gala for a number of years.
Outside of athletics – yes I do find the time- I enjoy reading and have recently discover the fulfilment of designing and renovating my wilderness into a hopefully welcoming garden. My main passion though is spending time with my family, particularly my granddaughter, who is such a joy.
I hope my story will inspire some of you to become volunteers in athletics, it can be extremely rewarding and enjoyable and allows the opportunity to make lasting friendships. As you will no doubt realise you can become heavily involved in the sport if you so desire however if everyone does a little it spreads the load.
Hope to see some new faces at our events in the coming months and years.
Interested in volunteering, please visit the ‘Get Involved’ section of this website.
More information and to see some of our Star Volunteers / Sêr Gwirfoddoli please visit: