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These initiatives have created volunteer opportunities in everything from football, swimming, to horseback riding IMAGES: INSTAGRAM/@TEAMNILA, @TASEKSAILORS

Your Love For Athletics Can Be Channelled Into Volunteerism - Here's How!

If you're like me and have a deep passion for sports, you can appreciate how influential sports can be when it comes to making a positive impact in our community. Imagine combining your love for scoring goals or shooting hoops with helping those in need. How awesome would that be, right?

This got me curious as to whether there are volunteerism movements that are harnessing the power of sports to make real change. From coaching young athletes in underserved communities to organising inclusive sporting events for individuals with disabilities, there are plenty of opportunities that will allow you to make a real difference, one game at a time.

Here are 5 such local initiatives and organisations that are perfect for volunteering, tailored to match your love for sports.

Team Nila

Sport: Fitness, Running, Athletics, Community Sports Events

Brief history: Spearheaded by Sport Singapore, Team Nila is a national volunteerism movement that aims to promote social cohesion through sports. Dubbed the “Purple Army”, you might have seen these volunteers as ushers at the Singapore Sports Hub or your heartland sports fiestas.

How can you volunteer: There are several ways you can contribute as part of Team Nila. You can lead community programmes at your nearest sport centres, volunteer during major sporting events, become a Community Coach in your preferred sport, donating to the SportsCares bursary or share knowledge about staying active and healthy as an ambassador.

Swim for Hope

Sport: Swimming, of course!

Brief history: Organised by SAFRA, Swim For Hope was first introduced in 2011 to provide an opportunity for SAF national servicemen (NSmen) and their families to contribute to charitable causes, while promoting fitness and bonding through swimming. The most recent edition in 2022 raised a total of $230,000 in donations. Incredible!

How can you volunteer: Usually held over a two-month period every year, volunteers can register for various categories and clock in their swim distances cumulatively. Last year, SAFRA even introduced team categories where you could register with your buddies and families.

Tasek Sailors

Sport: Football

Brief history: Tasek Sailors is the brainchild of the non-profit charity Tasek Jurong and Singapore Premier League club Lion City Sailors to make a difference through football.

This heartwarming collaboration is aimed at uplifting those who need it most - socially disadvantaged individuals, ex-inmates, youth-at-risk, single parents, the disabled, and needy families. Together, they run various football clinics and programmes that target people of all ages, from vulnerable young children to youth and even ex-inmates. Now that's what I call a winning goal!

How can you volunteer: Tasek Sailors is essentially an offshoot of Tasek Jurong’s Beacon of Life Academy (BOLA) football development programmme which has been a fixture in the local community over the last decade.

With LCS’s backing, the revamped initiative will hope to elevate its mentorship programme. If you’re a football enthusiast and have experience in coaching, this could be an awesome way to give back.

Email @[email protected] for volunteering opportunities or drop them a DM on Instagram @taseksailors. Football fans can also consider donating to their charity football events. Click on their website to learn more.

Riding for the Disabled Association Singapore

Sport: Horseback riding

Brief history: Riding for the Disabled Association  (RDA) Singapore is a fantastic organisation that's been making a difference since 1982 through equine-assisted therapeutic sessions. Starting out with just 5 riders and a whole lot of heart, they've managed to provide therapy through horse riding to over 7,000 disabled children and adults. Talk about spreading love and healing one gallop at a time!

How can you volunteer: RDA Singapore is always on the lookout for volunteers, and they welcome both groups and individuals with open arms. Whether you're a horse expert or a total newbie, they've got a role for you. No horse experience? No problem! They'll provide training for side walkers so you can confidently assist during therapy sessions. So, if you're looking to make a real difference in the lives of those with disabilities, saddle up.

Outward Bound Singapore

Sport: Sea Sports, scaling high elements courses

Brief history: Who else recalls their secondary 3 days, when we would experience the outdoors as part of the Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) programme? Personally, I had a ball of a time being one with nature and kayaking around the islands.

Founded by Dr Goh Keng Swee, the then Minister for the Interior & Defence back in 1967, OBS’s mission was to develop the next generation of leaders, equipping them with discipline, self-reliance, endurance, initiative, and integrity.

It was then repositioned as a way to get young lads ready for compulsory National Service. It was all about preparation and getting them mentally and physically tough for the challenges ahead. Fast forward to 1991, the modern OBS that we know today has become a vehicle to empower our youths with a sense of adventure and spirit.

How can you volunteer: If you’ve went through the OBS program during your secondary school days, you’re already part of their alumni community. With that comes various opportunities to give back.

One of their signature events is Project Water Clean-up where you can be heavily involved in conserving the marine environment surrounding Pulau Ubin. Relive your OBS days by paddling through the waters in kayaks. But this time round, it’s to help clean up the litter around the shores and on the coast. Find out more here.

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