As we celebrate Volunteers Week, we caught up with Cardiff AAC's Mark Vincent, who's become more and more involved in volunteering with the club in recent years.
What are your roles at Cardiff AAC and what do you do?
'I am a Team Manager and have looked after U11-U15 athletes since I joined the club, selecting and co-ordinating teams to compete in Welsh Junior League and YDL fixtures. At some fixtures I have managed up to 80 youngsters, sometimes it’s a balancing act trying to get as many athletes as possible involved, as well as keeping coaches and parents happy. I am also proud to have volunteered as an “Extra Miler” for Run 4 Wales events including Cardiff Half Marathons and the World Half Marathon a few years ago.'
How did you get involved in Athletics and volunteering?
'As a parent of two athletic sons, I wanted to help the club and so I offered my services. I enjoy helping, supporting, encouraging and just playing a small part in days where happy memories are made.'
How long have you been involved in the sport?
'I loved athletics as a schoolboy and wasn’t a bad sprinter and jumper, I would have loved to have had the opportunities that our young athletes have today. But both my sons joined Cardiff AAC in 2012, and so I suppose my involvement has just increased ever since then.'
What do you enjoy and what are the benefits?
'I enjoy being part of the team, it’s almost like an extended family now! I try and instil good team ethics with our athletes, not just concentrating on their own agendas but also doing their bit for the team. It makes me so happy following athletes from the early days when they are starting out as U11s and then seeing them make great progress along the long path to higher and higher competitive glory.'
What are your highlights from your time volunteering in the sport?
'Being a competitive sort of person, my highlights have been twice being involved in Welsh Junior League Cup wins and managing teams twice at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham at YDL Finals when we have competed against the best clubs in the country. Volunteering at the World Half Marathon Championships was also a great experience, as well as giving out medals to thousands of tired runners after last year’s Cardiff Half Marathon.'
What are your other interests outside of athletics?
'Apart from being a father’s taxi service, I have very little time for interests! However, I am a keen Cardiff City fan and look forward to supporting the Bluebirds in the Premier League next season. I love music and am a keen concert goer too!'
Any final advice or comments surrounding volunteering in athletics?
'With the age groups that I deal with its all about encouraging athletes to compete, to enjoy the sport and try different events and ultimately, it’s so rewarding to see lots of smiles at the end of a fixture. Being a volunteer at big sporting events is special, days you will always remember, and being able to give just a little encouragement means so much to some people.'