Responding to the needs of Sport Organisations and their Volunteers



Responding to the needs of Sport Organisations and their Volunteers

Everyone active in sport knows that volunteers are vital at every level, from local grassroots participation to elite international competitions. So much sport and physical activity could not happen without those who freely give their time, energy, and commitment to our sector, and we know that when they are well managed, volunteers gain new skills and huge personal and social benefits from their volunteering experience.

Sport volunteering, at its best, is a ‘win-win’ situation, but evidence suggests sport volunteering is in decline across Europe, and Covid-19 is likely to have that worse. Much more needs to be done to improve the recruitment, training, management and retention of sport volunteers if sport and physical activity is to continue to flourish.

This is the ambitious goal of the V4V project, funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ Sport programme, coordinated by the European Observatoire of Sport and Employment (EOSE) with the energetic support of 11 partner organisations across Europe.

Phase One – Mapping the Sport Volunteering Workforce

V4V aims to create innovative, practical tools for both sport organisations and volunteers, but before the project can do that, the partners need to know more about the European sport volunteer workforce and the views of sport organisations. Phase One, therefore, aims to create a Comprehensive Mapping of the Sport Volunteering Workforce in Europe.

In the summer and autumn of 2021, under the leadership of the University of Physical Education Hungary (UPE), all partners were hard at work researching relevant information and data for countries, regions and sports. In parallel, they were also conducting interviews with sport volunteers to get a better grasp of their experiences and perspectives. The outputs from this research cover 18 countries and sports, and Europe as a whole, amounting to over 1,000 pages in total.  Interviews were completed for 59 sport volunteers in 15 EU nations and six outside of the EU. These interviews provided vivid and fascinating insights into their experiences in so many countries and cultures.

Upcoming – Innovative Survey of Sport Organisations

This research has prepared the ground for a European-wide survey of sport organisations which aims to find out more about the number of volunteers active in the sector, demographic profiles, the roles that they play, their motivations, views and opinions on the value and realities of volunteering, and the challenges sport organisations face in volunteer recruitment, training, management and retention.

A draft survey questionnaire was designed and circulated to partners by EOSE in January. At its research meeting on 15 February, the 12 partners reviewed the draft, finalised the questions and the procedures for translating them into the major EU languages and the languages of the partners (Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Portuguese, Romanian). They also confirmed the comprehensive range of target organisations – sport clubs and associations, national, European and international federations, event organisers, governments, municipalities, employer organisations and trade unions, education providers, national Olympic committees, network organisations and many others. The meeting also agreed detailed arrangements to disseminate the survey to the target respondents.

The survey will go live on the SurveyMonkey platform on April 4th and will be open until at least April 29th with the facility to extend by two weeks, depending on the volume of responses.  Responses will be analysed by EOSE, and preliminary findings presented at the next full partner meeting.

Geoff Carroll, EOSE’s Skills Development Director, said “V4V continues to gather pace. The fantastic desk research and interviews which the partners carried out last year has given us a really solid foundation from which we’ve been able to design what we believe is the first survey of this kind across Europe. EOSE and our partners are convinced that the outcomes of this research will not only help us develop practical tools to assist the recruitment and management of sport volunteers, but we are also certain it will contribute significantly to the sector’s body of knowledge on this vital resource to sport.”

Next Steps for V4V

The partners are also delighted that, for the first time since the project launched, they should be able to meet in person. Up to now, all meetings have had to be held online, due to pandemic restrictions on travel and in-person meetings, but in June, V4 will be hosted for two days by one of our partners, the Finnish Athletics Federation (SUL) in Helsinki.

This meeting will review all outcomes of the Phase One research, including analysis of the volunteering survey and begin the plan the next two phases of operation.

Contact: Aurélien Favre – EOSE Executive Director –


About V4V

The project aims to provide practical solutions to some key challenges in the world of sport volunteering. There is substantial evidence over many years that volunteers are vital to sport. They give freely of their time and energy, but they also gain much informal learning through their voluntary work. One of V4V’s founding principles is that, if there is a way to make these skills and competences visible, this could be a powerful incentive to engaging more volunteers. As appropriate to the ambitions and needs of individual volunteers, making their skills and competences visible could also ease their transition into paid employment, help career progression and begin to address some of the sectoral skill shortages which other research, such as EOSE’s ESSA-Sport project has revealed. Another challenge is that sport volunteering is in decline, and it is vital we do more to care for and retain sport volunteers and make better use of what they can contribute.

With the support of 12 high profile expert partners from the European sport sector, V4V aims to provide the following outputs:

  • A comprehensive mapping of sport volunteer workforce
  • A digital toolkit for volunteer recruitment, retention and management
  • An online competency-based self-assessment tool so volunteers can identify and showcase skills and competences gained through volunteering experiences
  • The first ever European Sport Volunteering Skills Summit


Full list of partners:

European Observatoire of Sport and Employment (EOSE) – France/ EU

International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) – Denmark / Global

European Volunteer Centre (CEV) – Belgium / EU

> World Rugby – Ireland / Global

> International Judo Federation Academy Foundation (IJF) – Malta / Global

> Romanian Football Federation (FRF) – Romania

> Finnish Athletics Federation (SUL) – Finland

> Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) – United Kingdom

> Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth (IDPJ) – Portugal

> Estonian Foundation of Sports Education and Information (FSEI) – Estonia

> National Institute for Sport Research (NISR) – Romania

> University of Physical Education (UPE) – Hungary

> Leeds Beckett University (LBU) – United Kingdom



EOSE – European Observatoire of Sport and Employment

A new wave for the sport and active leisure sector

Ensuring the right skills in the right place

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