They are the team behind the team, the ones that get things done. Quietly, efficiently and without ever stepping in the limelight, thousands of people play their part in making sure that our sport appears in its very best light.
On 5 December, FIH is joining the United Nations and many other organisations in celebrating International Volunteer Day.
In highlighting the work of the men, women and young adults who willingly give up hours of their time across all aspects of the sport, we are also reminding ourselves to stop and thank people on a regular basis.
It is also worth considering all the many roles within hockey that are filled by volunteers. The most visible are the umpires and tournament officials who leave their families and take time off work to make sure that international events are run smoothly and efficiently. From the tournament director and umpire manager through to the umpires and technical officials - the third team are all volunteers.
Many of the roles around an international team are also filled by volunteers. Quite often the team manager and medical staff attached to a team will be taking leave from their day jobs to ensure the welfare of the players at important tournaments and competitions.
At an event itself the venue will be teeming with volunteer staff. People showing the fans to their seats, people checking tickets, people filling ice-buckets, people organising the half-time entertainment, people clearing up the stadium when all the excitement has died down, even the people encased in the costumes of the mascots – all volunteers.
It is the same within our own national and international bodies. There are people working at every level of the game, as volunteers, to make sure that the pitch is ready, the teams are catered for and the action can begin. Within national associations, continental federations and at the FIH, people take on roles – treasurer, secretary, board member, committee chair – on a voluntary basis.
From the volunteer who greets you as you enter a hockey stadium to the person who manages the umpiring appointments on the world stage – every single person is playing their part within our wide-spread hockey community.
This year, FIH is asking everyone in the hockey community to recognise the work of the volunteers. We fully support the UN statement about International Volunteer Day, particularly as the message of inclusivity resonates so concretely with hockey’s position as a sport that embraces inclusivity and equality: “Volunteering provides opportunities for people, particularly those often excluded, to concretely impact their own lives and play a constructive role in their communities by volunteering their time and skills. Through volunteerism, communities around the world often experience strengthened solidarity and inclusion.”
FIH President, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, says: "Within our hockey family, there are thousands of volunteers who readily give up their time and offer their expertise and professionalism so that our sport can flourish. International Volunteer Day recognises their immense efforts but I urge all of us to remember the volunteers every time a hockey event takes place. Without this vast army of people, the exciting, dramatic and entertaining hockey events around the world simply could not happen. FIH salutes each and everyone of you."
FIH invites everyone to join the passion of becoming a member of the global hockey community! Interested? Please contact your hockey National Association by .