VOLUNTEER WITH TEAM NILA

VOLUNTEER WITH TEAM NILA

Nancy Loo (left) and Sarah Qistina (right). Photos courtesy of Nancy Loo and Sarah Qistina.

If you enjoy sport and volunteering, Team Nila is for you. Singapore’s national sport volunteerism movement — which promotes giving, citizenship partnership and social cohesion through sport — offers specially-curated volunteering and training opportunities. Aside from volunteering at sporting events, Team Nila volunteers could serve as pool guardians at ActiveSG swimming complexes, or assist persons with disabilities during their training sessions. Through these, sport volunteers help empower beneficiaries and build a more caring and resilient society.

Team Nila volunteers Nancy Loo and Sarah Qistina share with Here to Play the joys of volunteering, and what they have learnt from their involvement in the movement.

GAINING NEW EXPERIENCES

Nancy Loo engaging a group of seniors during one of the weekly Senior Sporting Day, which happens every Thursday from 8am at Queenstown Complex. Photo courtesy of Nancy Loo.

Tour guide and national education officer Nancy Loo, 60, started volunteering with Team Nila when she answered the public call for volunteers to support the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Para Games. 

Eager to play a part in international events held at the then-newly completed Singapore Sports Hub, she signed up and promptly embarked on a journey that has enriched her life and widened her social circle. 

Now semi-retired, Nancy has taken part in about 90 events and commits anywhere between five to 30 hours a month as a Team Nila volunteer. In addition, she also volunteers in community care and senior care programmes with her church. 

Her volunteering has not only brought her new friends, but has also given her a variety of new and exciting experiences. “I enjoy the wide spectrum of opportunities,” she says of her time with Team Nila. “There are international, para sports, community care and national heritage events. Various training courses are also available.”

Nancy Loo taking part in the “Kallang, Sports & You” online session, which was held when safety management measures were in place. Photo courtesy of Nancy Loo.

One of Nancy’s fondest memories was serving at the event that first brought her into the volunteering fold – being a liaison officer for Vietnam’s Minister of Tourism and Sports at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games. According to Nancy, the minister was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Team Nila’s service. “He was impressed that the volunteers were always smiling and ever ready. He was also grateful that I was always able to provide any information he needed and delighted that I had all his official T-shirts size correct without being asked,” she recalls. “His parting words were extremely heart-warming: ‘The volunteers I met were so energetic and I could see the tireless passion in their eyes even till late at night. So unbelievable that everyone was just a volunteer yet so committed in the roles given. Thank you very much for the hard work.’”  

Besides managing the needs of overseas dignitaries, Nancy has also done her part for the community. Through Team Nila, she participated in nationwide mask distributions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and assisted with exercises such as temperature-taking at community centres and clubs, giving out hand sanitisers and Trace Together tokens. “In each of these exercises, I had the opportunity to share the value of courage in facing COVID-19 with each member of the public I encountered,” she says. “Throughout it all, I learnt the practicality of Team Nila’s values: courage, passion and friendship.” 

She adds, “With Team Nila’s volunteering opportunities, we learn new things together, we stay active together and we always have new friends.”

LIVING BETTER THROUGH SPORT

Sarah Qistina briefing participants of Sports Festival 2022. Photo courtesy of Sarah Qistina.

At 20, full-time student Sarah Qistina might be expected to busy herself with school, friends, family, and having fun. Instead, for the last four years, the Diploma in Sport Coaching student at Republic Polytechnic has carved out time in her hectic schedule to volunteer with Team Nila – a commitment that she says has given her ample room to grow and develop her abilities. 

Introduced to Team Nila by a friend, Sarah fell in love with the initiative instantly: “I felt so comfortable and welcomed by the volunteers, who bring a lot of value and passion towards their craft through the connection of sports!”

Since then, Sarah has participated in 46 Team Nila events, devoting around seven hours a month to volunteering. On top of this, she is also a volunteer assistant bowling coach during the school holidays at Tampines Community Club and a member of Running Hour, an inclusive sports co-operative that promotes integration of people with special needs through sport. 

Despite the challenges of juggling her various commitments, Sarah feels that it’s all worthwhile, as volunteering brings her special joy that is immeasurable: “Volunteering gives me motivation to help and engage the community through physical activities. I also get to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds, learn more about their life stories, make new friends and give back to the community.” 

She adds that she particularly enjoys meeting older volunteers who share their knowledge with her. “I find that really priceless — you get to learn new skills from them, and you would not experience such things elsewhere.”

Sarah Qistina with a fellow volunteer at Sports Festival 2022. Photo courtesy of Sarah Qistina.

Besides learning from her seniors, Sarah has been empowered by her volunteering experiences to run her own projects. In 2021, she started Team Nila Youth Champions, a club where youth volunteers can plan their own sports events and invite members of the public to participate and even win prizes. “It was a memorable moment for my volunteering journey, not only because I always wanted to create my own platform that I could supervise, but also to share and engage the youth community to take up volunteering in the captivating area of sports,” she says. 

From her time with Team Nila, Sarah has strengthened her own professional skillset: “I’ve learnt technical skills such as leadership, as I get opportunities to manage volunteers and plan events. I’ve also learnt more about teamwork. Team Nila comprises of volunteers of varying ages, including those above 50, so I get to work with different people with different capabilities and experiences.” 

Sarah, who constantly encourages her friends and family members to join her in volunteering, says that joining Team Nila has been a decision she has never regretted. “Team Nila has great capabilities to develop and enrich youth such as myself, by providing lots of chances to help one grow as an individual,” she reflects. “Most importantly, Team Nila is a family where everyone gets involved, and no one is left behind.” 

Interested in signing up to be a Team Nila volunteer? Learn more here about doing good through sport. 

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