WHILE sporting clubs faced various challenges at the start of the year due to COVID-19, the work of volunteers have helped them bounce back.

The North Hobart Football Club felt the pinch of the restrictions, but the resilience and spirit of its community members, and the hard work of a number of volunteers, including 17 international students, have kept the club afloat.

Anabel and Delon Gomez came to Hobart from the Philippines for work, but were separated from their family who remain in the Philippines due to travel restrictions.

Anabel Gomez said she saw an ad for volunteers at the North Hobart Football Club on Facebook and saw it as an opportunity to connect with the community.

“We did a lot of volunteering in our home country,” she said.

“We enjoy being connected to our new community making friends.”

The couple will be joined in their new home of Hobart by their 19-year-old daughter as soon as COVID travel restrictions are lifted.

“We hope our daughter can be a volunteer with us next year,“ Ms Gomez said.

For the students, originally from across Asia, volunteering has been an opportunity to get involved in the local community and build relationships to help their journey to gain permanent residency status and employment.

North Hobart Football Club director of volunteers and wellbeing David Kilpatrick said the club had about 50 volunteers who did a range of jobs including the canteen, the gate, events management, physio, gear steward, running water onto the field and operating the bar.

“While this is a semi-professional football club, it really runs on the generosity of volunteers,” he said.

“It’s not just about the footy, it’s more a sense of community, and for a lot of the volunteers who haven’t played football before, they’re just connected socially to the club.”

Mr Kilpatrick said people volunteered with clubs as a way to find social connection with a group and also give back to a community.

“A lot of people felt very restricted during the COVID lockdown, so they’ve come out looking for things to do,” he said.

“A lot of the international students told me they found themselves spending a lot of time in their house talking to the same people all day long, so that encouraged them to volunteer.

“For myself, volunteering is a way of giving back to the club because they’ve looked after my son quite well for many years – giving back is an important aspect of volunteering.”

Chris Smith has been involved with the club for more than 45 years playing, coaching, on the board, as a life member, and as a volunteer.

“It’s rewarding when you see things getting done that you’ve contributed to because we’re volunteers and we do it for nothing – I just love the club,” he said.

The North Hobart Football Club also received a Game Day Ready Kit as part of Elastoplast’s Together We Get Up Again initiative, containing much-needed equipment to help ease the pressure of the new compliance provisions and get them back on their feet.

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The Hobart Observer is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 24,000 homes and businesses in and around the City of Hobart. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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