Last night I started my new role working with a local rugby club. We're not talking high flying professional stuff here, just a local club made of folk who love rugby and love playing. One thing this means is that there's no money, so I'm not about to make my fortune here, but I get the opportunity to broaden my skills and build connections. And I love rugby too, so it's not a big hardship to give up some time and effort working with them.
My role is to look after the players, primarily the first team, and to provide pitch-side assistance on match days. I set up my "clinic" on one of the training nights and assess and treat within the scope of my knowledge and practice. Already I've sent a couple of players off to see their GP's to get a proper medical assessment of their injuries.
It is really important to me to be professional about what I do. There might not be a lot of money involved, but that is no reason to do a poor job and what's more my reputation is on the line. If at the end of the season I've done a good job, then that bodes well for the future. The fact that the pay isn't going to cause me any great problems with the tax man is neither here nor there. There are other things to take into account. The opportunity to advertise for free at the club for one, and the possibility of getting involved with the other sports clubs that run on the same site. There's a cricket club and football and there are some tennis courts that are being brought back into service!
As far as the players are concerned, they see me as the club physio. I know that's not what I am, I'm a sports and remedial massage therapist, but they don't make that distinction. It's up to me to stay inside my professional boundaries, to know my limits and refer on without worrying about what people might think.
As a group, they seem great. There's the usual banter and colourful language of a dressing room.
I suspect that many a small, local sports club is the same position of needing some support but not having the funds. Volunteering your time or working for expenses is one way of helping them and helping yourself.