Volunteer’s Blog: Ravin Mehta
Occupation: Company Director
I have been volunteering at Bushey Academy Table Tennis Club on Monday nights since last September. The Head Coach at Bushey, Vidal Graham, suggested I come and help out as my son is a participant. Vidal made me realise that although I’m not great at table tennis, there were other areas in which I could help the kids develop their skills as part of Greenhouse’s STEP (social, thinking, emotional and physical) framework.
At the beginning, it was hard to take the time out every week as I have many other commitments, but once I made it clear that I wouldn’t be around Monday night from 5.30-8pm, other people got used to it. It’s about setting priorities and expectations. Personally, now I know that the beginners I coach are relying on me, I make an extra effort to make sure I’m there. Also, I always feel good afterwards, so I’m more disciplined with myself to make sure I attend.
I really enjoy seeing the positive benefits of the programme. For example, one of my participants was having a tough time starting at a new school and he came in feeling down. Half way through the session, I remember him laughing and feeling good that he had mastered the basic back-hand. It felt great to be able to bring some joy back into his day.
As my coaching responsibilities have progressed, I also try to come up with new ways of engaging the participants. I remember doing a warm-up with a group and I had created a new game which involved throwing and catching balls while running. I wasn’t sure if they’d like it. They loved it and even asked to do it again for the warm down, a few months after they’re still asking to do it, which is really pleasing.
One of the reasons I enjoy this volunteering time is that I feel supported, invested in and given the opportunity to develop so that I can be more effective. Even though I’m still not that good at table tennis, I’ve learned enough technically through taking a coaching qualification recently that I now have the skills to develop the beginners to the next level. The main reason I took the coaching certificate is because I’d like to make sure that when I’m teaching I give the correct technical advice, e.g. position, movement, hand grip, swing.
The course also gave me some good coaching tips for working with young people, especially in terms of child safety. Overall, the coaching qualification has boosted my confidence because although I may not be the best table tennis player, I have useful knowledge that helps me develop the beginners in the club in the correct way. It’s also been great working with Vidal as he is a naturally gifted coach and there’s a lot I can learn from him. He’s always there if I need help.
If you were asked to describe your volunteering experience in one word, what would it be? Positive.