As sports get back to normal on P.E.I., volunteers become harder to find

·2 min read
One baseball league on P.E.I. had to delay the start of its season due to a lack of coaches. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
One baseball league on P.E.I. had to delay the start of its season due to a lack of coaches. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

Sports organizations on P.E.I. say they are finding fewer people who are willing to clock in volunteer hours for games.

Volunteers are needed to either coach or officiate, but the lack of people with those skill sets has caused disruption in some sports.

Baseball P.E.I. was forced to delay one of its leagues this season because there weren't enough coaches, said executive director Rhonda Pauls.

"I'm sure that everybody would say that over the pandemic, we all got out of the habit of being out of our homes and we found other things to do with our time. And we have found that there's a lot of people that have decided that, you know, maybe I don't need to be doing all this volunteerism anymore. I found some other things to do."

Kirk Pennell/CBC
Kirk Pennell/CBC

Sport P.E.I. said some people willing to volunteer have been unsure because they lack experience.

The organization is doing its best to provide training, said executive director Gemma Koughan, but the remaining challenge is still time commitment, on top of COVID-19 and summer vacations.

Event cancelled

Triathlon P.E.I., for example, had to cancel an event last weekend when it couldn't find enough help to cover the swim portion of the competition.

"A lot of our organizations have volunteer officials, and you can't run a competition without officials," Koughan said.

"And those are always hard to fill because they do need to be trained or they need to have a particular skill set in order to run that event. And without them, it doesn't happen. So I know some sports do struggle in that area quite a bit."

Kirk Pennell/CBC
Kirk Pennell/CBC

Peter Wolters, executive director of the P.E.I. Soccer Association, said referee numbers are manageable this year but the sport is always looking for more volunteers.

'Big turnover'

"We always have a big turnover as the 14-15-year-olds get full-time jobs in the summer," he said.

"There is just so much to do in the summer on P.E.I. and people don't want to get tied up for the summer."

Other reasons, such as new rules around safe sport, also make it harder to recruit new coaches, Pauls said.

"You don't just show up and get to be a volunteer anymore. You actually have to take some courses and spend some time getting credentialed, having background checks, criminal record checks, that sort of thing. So that can be a deterrent for some people that just don't want to jump through all those hoops."

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