The Norwegian concept of “dugnad”, which means doing volunteer work together, plays a key role in Norwegian sport. It would be difficult to run the sports clubs without this voluntary effort. It’s common for the parents and other volunteers to take on voluntary roles at the local sports clubs, which contributes to as many children as possible being able to do activities they love. Volunteer work has many positive benefits, so it’s something you should consider doing.
The body of Norwegian sport consists of many parts, but there is no doubt that the ‘dugnad’ is the heart. This very typical Norwegian word, which was once voted the word of the year in Norway, means doing volunteer work together. The sports clubs are run by parents and other dedicated people on a voluntary basis. Some want to be coaches, while others prefer to be team manager or parent representative. Someone also needs to look after the equipment, facilities, finances and the organisation. It’s common in Norway for the parents to take on voluntary tasks. This gives them a good opportunity to contribute to the club that their children are members of. The best thing about this voluntary work is that it ensures that as many children and young people as possible can take part in organised sport.
It’s important to remember that it’s not only the children who benefit from the volunteer work. By doing volunteer work, you will meet other people and it often feels rewarding to work towards a common goal. For some people, new acquaintances can even lead to job opportunities. If you have recently moved to Norway, an expanded network provides opportunities to practice Norwegian and become familiar with Norwegian culture and traditions. Working as a volunteer is often sociable and helps increase the club spirit and sense of belonging. How much you can contribute with and what needs to be done varies from sport to sport and club to club.
As well as the roles we have discussed, the concept of “dugnad” is often mentioned at parents meetings and the like. It describes the volunteer work that the parents must do to help the team and the club. Many clubs have their own training facilities and clubhouses which cost money to maintain and operate. This volunteer effort helps to reduce the amount the families need to pay for their children to participate. For instance, doing volunteer work can reduce the amount each family needs to pay for the team to attend a tournament or competition in another part of Norway.
Travelling to such events costs a lot of money and we must ensure that everyone in the team can go, regardless of whether their parents are rich or not. There are many ways to raise money, including collecting empty bottles and returning them to the shop to collect the deposit. Collecting many bottles raises a lot of money. To achieve this, we need someone to make notes or flyers advising people that we will be coming to collect bottles – and then people need to put these in the letterboxes in the area where we will collect the bottles. A few days later, people need to drive around with the children to knock on doors and pick up the bottles. Others need to take the bottles to the shop, put them in the deposit machine and get the money. Stocktaking is another good example. Shops must count their goods several times a year and sports teams often get this work. Parents and children who are old enough work at the shop for a few hours and the payment for this work goes to the respective team.
Clubs also need volunteers to run tournaments and events. This is known as an internal “dugnad”. There are many roles to fill, including stewards, people to work in the café selling waffles, soft drinks and coffee, people who bake cakes to sell, volunteers to work in the secretariat and others to hand out certificates and medals. Things often need to be arranged both before and after an event. There is often a need for volunteers to set up before the event and others to pack up or do cleaning afterwards.
To maintain the sport as a voluntary organisation, we are reliant on everyone making a voluntary contribution to the sports club in one way or another. If the timing of the organised “dugnad” does not suit, you can ask the club or team if there are other ways you can help. Perhaps you can help with cooking, driving, doing physical work, coaching or bookkeeping. Remember, if you are unable to attend, it’s important to advise those responsible and offer help another time. If you have good ideas about how to raise funds, please discuss this with the coach or parental representative who will appreciate your input.
After completing your volunteer work, you will be left with an incredibly good feeling. As well as making an effort for your child or children, you will have contributed to a joint effort.