Two Dads of budding young cricketers, Arif Saad and Paul Graham have become increasingly involved at Clwb Criced Aberaeron Cricket Club. The duo has made it their mission to grow the club, with more children and adults now playing than ever before. Their efforts have earned them a top accolade from Cricket Wales for Connecting Communities.
How did you start volunteering?
We first got involved in the club when a member of the club stepped down. He’d always been very instrumental to the running and the development of the club and, together, we decided to help more so that the club wouldn’t slip backwards after the progress that had been made.
What do you do?
Between us, we coach the under 13s and run the Dynamos programme which is for children aged eight to 11. We’re also trying to create an under 11 hard ball team. We arrange winter training for adult and youth teams, manage team selection, help to set up the ground, score/umpire matches (when we’re not playing!) and upload results and write reports. Over the last two seasons, we’ve also built a women’s soft ball team that is now a vibrant part of the club and community. Everyone is talking about it!
One of our biggest tasks is to modernise our facilities to be more accessible and inclusive. We’re looking to obtain a lease on the council-owned ground so we can improve the facilities and grow as a club.
Why do you do it?
We do it because it needs doing! But it’s really rewarding to introduce kids to cricket and keep them involved in the game.
We believe that sports clubs are valuable community resources which bring people together and can be inspirational for people, young and old, to be more active and enjoy sport. We are now trying to grow every aspect of the club.
On a more selfish level, we enjoy playing the game and want there to be a successful club for us to play with! We have also made loads of good friends.
How does it make you feel?
We’re proud of what we've achieved - it is rewarding when something you have devoted time and effort to comes to fruition. There have been a few occasions recently when we have looked around and thought that this is what we are trying to achieve. It motivates you to continue putting in the effort.
It gives us a huge sense of happiness when everyone rallies together, all doing their bit to host matches and to generally improve as a club.
What would you say to people thinking about volunteering for a sports club?
Every sports club is crying out for more people to get involved. There is so much to do to run a successful sports club and it requires people with so many different skills and experiences - or just time to help out.
It can be daunting when you are a newcomer and everyone knows everyone else but sports clubs tend to be incredibly welcoming environments, desperate for more people to roll up their sleeves. So, throw yourself into it and you’ll make some great friendships along the way.
Arif and Paul’s Top Tip: Don't overthink it - just ask what you can do to help.
Read more about the volunteers making a difference in cricket.