Ulster Rugby v Edinburgh

The game of rugby is built on a foundation of volunteering. Many of our activities and affiliated clubs could not survive without the involvement of passionate and dedicated volunteers, like Rachel Melville, who bring together a range of knowledge, skills and experience to enhance the sport. Here we catch up with Rachel to find out how she got into coaching at Newforge Taggers and the impact volunteering has had on her life. ULSTER RUGBY VOLUNTEER PROFILE: RACHEL MELVILLE

opportunity to learn, but an opportunity to challenge myself to do something outside my comfort zone. What skills or qualities are required for your volunteering role? Communication is key, as some of the children have communication difficulties. It is important to find ways for them to understand what I want, but also for me to understand what they need. Teamwork is also crucial, both with the children and other coaches, so everyone is having fun and it’s not left to one person to organise and take responsibility all the time. Organisational skills and the ability to adapt is also key. Sometimes the session doesn’t quite work out as you expect, so you need to be prepared to change the activity, so it is more suited to the players’ needs and abilities. What do you enjoy most about volunteering? The Taggers are one big happy family. Whenever we go on tour, it provides you with the opportunity to sit down with players, parents and fellow coaches and you get to know them better. Everyone has a great time and we have a lot of tour memories to look back on. Why do you volunteer? I just love it! On Sunday mornings at training, you can see the difficulties the players have to deal with, but they don’t let them get in the way of playing rugby, so you forget your own troubles. Everyone is having fun and you can see how much the players have developed over the years. When some players started with us, they couldn’t throw or catch a rugby ball, but after 10 years I can see huge improvements and can say “I played a small part in that”. We all have smiles on our faces at the end of a session – so everyone wins!

How often do you volunteer? Once a week, on a Sunday morning for training. Also at any tournaments we attend. When did you first begin volunteering with Ulster Rugby?

VOLUNTEER PROFILE I started volunteering with the Taggers in September 2007, after a conversation with a family friend, who is Head Coach at the Taggers. We were chatting about sport in general, and as I enjoy most sports, when he asked me if I’d ever thought about volunteering, I went along to the Taggers the next Sunday and i've never left! In 2012, I helped out with the Ulster Rugby Summer Camps and the Family Fun Day. I was then approached to help with match nights, which I did for around three years. Have you had a previous volunteering role elsewhere? No, this is my first experience of volunteering on a regular basis. What does your volunteering involve?

I help to set up and run training sessions on a Sunday morning. As coaches we decide what areas to focus on during the session and share coaching responsibilities equally. We have a group of 12-15 coaches, with at least 45 players attending. They are aged from 6 years up to young adults, all with additional needs. I was also recently appointed as a committee member of the Taggers so I attend meetings when required. What inspired you to get involved? I’ve always been a rugby fan, but I didn’t know how to get involved as girls rugby wasn’t as popular or well-known as it is now. Volunteering with the Taggers would be something different, as I’d never worked with children who have additional needs. I saw it, not only as an



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