Amanda Nanai & Carla Hayes - Manurewa Rugby Club | Faces of Auckland Sport and Recreation Volunteers
Families that play together, stay together. For sisters Amanda Nanai and Carla Hayes, the same can be said for volunteering in rugby, too.
Amanda and Carla have been volunteering at Manurewa Rugby Club for 12 and 17 years respectively, signing up when their children joined the club.
And while their kids have risen through the age grades, Amanda and Carla have continued helping behind the scenes, volunteering their services wherever they’re needed and creating a welcoming, whanau-friendly club in the process.
“I started off managing my son’s team when he started playing,” says Amanda, looking back on her volunteering journey. “A few years later, I joined the Club Committee. Then I became Treasurer, and then Registrar, and I'm also now a team liaison for the club’s competitions teams. [I’ve done a bit of everything!]”
Carla, who followed a similar volunteering path – with the addition of a current role as Manurewa’s Junior Chairperson – says the club has grown significantly in the last few years, but the family feeling still remains.
“We had about 250 players a couple of years ago, and now we're up at 450. We love our families to come in and be a part of [the club], and we have a lot of old players coming back and visiting, and helping out where they can.”
“We're a really accepting club, too. We like all weights, sizes, ethnicities - whatever. I think that makes our club what it is, because everyone does feel so welcomed and accepted and loved in the club.”
Amanda also volunteers as Secretary for the Counties Manukau Rugby Union junior club executive, and says her many roles see her being part of “a lot of the decision making around different clubs. It can be a bit of a balancing act, especially at the beginning of the rugby season when you're trying to form the teams.
“But for us, it helps that most of our kids are still playing [at Manurewa], and they love being here too. If they have a bye on a Saturday, they still want to come to the rugby club. It's their place where they want to be as well.”
“I also work at a local primary school, and a lot of the children who play rugby at Manurewa go to that school. [I love] seeing the happiness on the kids’ faces…They're always really excited about even going to practices. They want to be there; they're not being made to be there.”
According to Amanda, clubs need volunteers to survive, thrive, and create a welcoming atmosphere – as Manurewa Rugby Club has. “I want to grow it more and more, but [we need] volunteers to be able to do that.
“Even now, Carla and I are co-managing a competition team, and I'm also managing an under 10s team as well. Every year, we're still managing teams as well as doing other volunteering roles. The teams we're normally managing aren’t out own kids. We're filling in the gaps!
“But if we can have a massive club, for both juniors and seniors, and just see everybody loving what they're doing on that field, then we’ve met our goal.”