Chipping in for local sport
Among the many tasks at a sporting club, the canteen consumes perhaps as much time as any.
While the revenue earned through selling food and drinks seems like an easy way of making money, anyone who has been involved will know that it is a very hard slog. Unlike small businesses that have paid staff and facilities to operate regularly, the canteen at your local sporting club relies on volunteers and involves a lot of effort every time the canteen is opened.
Behind the scenes is a committed band of helpers who are subjected to constant long days and look after the purchase of items, set up of the canteen, stocktaking, security of money and cleaning the canteen when everyone else has gone.
Except in rare situations, there is no payment and the “perks” may include a free drink or a pie (if they are lucky) and they rarely get to see the games being played. With such an unappealing array of incentives included in the job description, why would anyone want to get involved with the club canteen?
My enquiring mind (and hungry stomach) led me to the canteen at Lismore Richmond Rovers Soccer Club on Saturday morning, where I found the delightful Susan Johnston and her able assistant, the lovely Karen Flynn, waiting with a smile behind the counter. These ladies epitomise everything that is typically found at dozens of canteens around the country every weekend, with good conversation and real country hospitality. Despite both maintaining jobs during the week, these bubbly, enthusiastic mums have worked tirelessly in the Rovers canteen for about 10 years. They first became involved when their husbands were playing for the club. Despite injury and “old age” putting those careers into retirement from the game, Susan and Karen have remained involved and appear to be loving it. The ladies say the canteen is far from a grind and they actually have lots of fun, meet lots of parents and get a great sense of satisfaction from seeing the club evolve with new facilities. A visit to the canteen will not only find a way to satisfy the taste buds, but it will also introduce you to some of the people who are the unassuming backbone of the club. Next time you head for a hotdog, take the time to say thanks for the efforts that they make: they will really appreciate it.