National Volunteer Week | Tania Lister

Volunteers are the life blood of every sport at all levels of the game. To celebrate National Volunteer Week, we’ve caught up with some of our own cricket volunteers who are doing amazing work in other sports during the winter months.

First up, it’s Tania Lister from Junior Cricket Upper Hutt.


What is your involvement with cricket in Wellington?

I’ve supported Junior Cricket Upper Hutt for the past four years as Age Group Convenor, Social Media Liaison and General Dogs Body  on their committee.


With it being the off-season for cricket, what other codes do you find yourself involved with & in what capacity?

Is there an off season for cricket!? Still doing work for next season!  However:

  • Junior Netball – I coach my daughters Year 5 netball team and organise our school teams for local Upper Hutt Netball competitions
  • Junior Rugby – I’m the Under 11 Rugby Convenor for Upper Hutt Junior Rugby, as well as the Representative Fixtures Lead and I’m also a Committee Member
  • Trentham United Harriers & Walkers - General Committee Member, Junior Support Liaison
  • Remutaka Rail Trail Walk and Run - Event Director and Manager
  • Upper Hutt Touch – I was recently a Module Lead and I supported Total Touch to bring touch competitions to Upper Hutt
  • Upper Hutt Primary School Sports Association - School Representative



How did you start your journey as a volunteer?

About 20 or so years ago I was approached to coach one of my club’s netball teams that I had been playing in due to my organisational skills (or need to be in control and know what’s going on!) I ended up becoming the Coaching Manager for the club and it all kind of snowballed from there. Soon I found myself as the Club Captain and running the club! I moved across a few different clubs, codes and committees that I was involved in personally during those years and that meant I was able to upskill in different areas while volunteering my time and understanding how clubs work and run.


What motivates you to volunteer your time amidst a busy schedule?

I was brought up with the understanding that if you have the skills and ability to do something to help then you should, and I’m a strong believer in this work ethic. My mother always used to say to me that no-one makes it through life without someone’s help, so what can I do to help? It’s rather profound really when I look back! It has definitely stuck! I personally also don’t like confusion and lack of clarity, especially when a few small changes can make sporting experiences so much nicer and easier for kids and families. I enjoy making life easier for people and if something I do can support an easy transition or create more opportunities for physical literacy in life then I’m all for it! It’s also a great way to stay in touch with people, connect with the community, make new friends, have fun and grow my own skills!


How do you balance volunteering with work, family etc?

Still working on that one! My volunteering focus now is more around my own kids’ sports and creating opportunities for them, their friends and their families. I haven’t quite got the balance right yet as I tend to go all-in and prioritise volunteering, but I’m working on it. I like being able to spread myself across and help multiple codes instead of focusing on one thing. I’m very lucky that I have a supportive husband who knows I have a passion for helping others in this area, and kids who are active and involved. They are now starting to learn the ways of the dragon - how to help where they can and be involved. It’s exciting to see.


What do you think could be done to get more people involved in volunteering?

We need to make it easy to understand what is required as a volunteer. Clear and concise expectations, roles and responsibilities. Volunteering doesn’t need to be hours of work, but sometimes people don’t know what they can do to help, so we need to make it clear and easy to understand what’s needed - clarity. I’ve found that if you ask for a volunteer you generally won’t get anyone; but if you call for someone to do this, at this time, for this long, at this place, you have a much greater chance of getting support. Also have a common goal!


What must organisations do to retain & reward volunteers?

Make it easy, simple, provide a safe environment for your volunteers and respect them. They are putting themselves out there, sometimes in a new situation out of their comfort zone, so do everything you can to support them. Don’t dump everything on your volunteers, instead have realistic expectations - their time is valuable, so make it a good experience for them and don’t expect one person to do the work of ten. If they have an enjoyable experience, then they will come back. Start small, don’t overcommit and come back. Rewarding volunteers is tricky as by nature we don’t do it for rewards - however aside from usual feel good benefits of volunteering it’s always nice to recognise or acknowledge someone's work and time via a shout out, card or a social media thanks.


Tell us about a volunteer that inspires you.

I see so many across my volunteer codes that it’s hard to pick out one. The unseen volunteers who meet to discuss the rugby/netball/cricket/floorball seasons, the parents getting to grounds early to help set up and pack down, the coaches and managers who organise our teams - they all inspire me.  I guess it’s all those people that say yes, I can do that and who put the mahi in for the greater enjoyment for others.

Article added: Thursday 17 June 2021