Sport volunteers have a story about how it all started and it often involves children.
Jason King first started coaching football when his daughter Lauren (now 9) became interested in the sport.
Throughout his five year coaching career Jason has coached juniors, youth and seniors. Juniors and youth at rep level, and seniors (this year) at travelling competitive level.
First Kicks is a Football programme for 4 to 6-year-olds and Jason has been involved since its introduction to Whanganui in 2012. There isn't a Saturday you won't see Jason down at Wembley Park, fully involved in the goings on and making sure he and everyone else has a great time in the process.
Sport Whanganui asked Jason a few questions about his experiences to which he replied with honesty and enthusiasm.
How did you first get involved?
I first started volunteering thanks to my daughter Lauren. I'd played football myself, up to rep level, as a junior and youth player, but had an extended break from the sport until my eldest started playing when we lived in Blenheim.
When Heath moved back to live with me in Whanganui, both my two eldest sons were involved in football, but my daughter Lauren really wanted to play too. She loved getting kitted up and jumping on the field with Jacob's team, but was very shy and didn't really get involved or touch the ball.
The next season, there was a new initiative called First Kicks for the little kids, which at first I thought was a waste of time. Schoolyard games, and less focus on the 'fixture' itself with smaller numbers of players on each team ... that's not the football I played as a kid. However, one weekend, I was sitting there griping to my wife about how this wasn't football, when I heard laughter over my shoulder. I looked and it was my daughter and her teammates having a wonderful time with the little skill drills, and I noticed that elements of football were right there as well.
I instantly saw the benefits, rolled my sleeves up, and threw everything into making sure that all young footballers, not only my own, benefited from the support of good coaches, and a well-designed football programme. Over the years this also meant sharing my passion with the next generation of young coaches who were keen to share their own passion as well.
What motivates you to do this?
Simply seeing the kids fall in love with sport, or seeing a coach find the passion for the game again through their own volunteering. It's sometimes simply a smile that makes it all worthwhile.
What is the best part about the volunteer work you do?
The best part is seeing the kids fall in love with the game, and not just play to be the best, but play to be kids as well. Some will go on to bigger and better things, others won't, but at the end of the day, they'll hopefully all stay with the sport, because they love it, not because they feel they have to play it.
What are your hopes and dreams for the sport/s locally?
To see more growth around the region and an increase in people willing to help those playing the game. Call them a coach, a helper, a game leader, whatever. If it's fun and rewarding, it doesn't matter what your title is.
Jason is one of many sporting personalities Sport Whanganui wishes to recognise.
This is the second of a series of articles recognising the wonderful sport volunteers we have in Whanganui.
For further information about coaching and volunteers please contact Jodie or Jimmy at Sport Whanganui on 06 349 2300.