Janis Blake – Mountain Green Archery Club | Faces of Auckland Sport and Recreation Volunteers
If you’ve ever walked up Ōwairaka (Mount Albert) in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, chances are you may have stumbled across a hive of activity through a clearing in the trees, where archers young and old line up with bows drawn and let arrows fly.
That’s the Mountain Green Archery Club, which has been promoting target archery on the summit of Ōwairaka since it was founded in the 1940s, hosting archers from Auckland and beyond.
As coaching coordinator for MGAC, Janis Blake will most likely be one of the volunteers you’ll see in the thick of the action, organising coaching for the club’s 200 members – ranging from absolute beginners through to experienced archers competing at international level.
How did you first become involved in archery, and Mountain Green Archery Club?
When our youngest daughter was in Year 10, we saw a notice for a beginner course for archery that was being run by Mountain Green. My husband’s always been keen on archery, so we suggested to our daughter that she sign up. She got the archery bug quite early on! I've always gotten involved in whatever my kids are doing, so that's how we joined the club, and we're still there three years later.
You're currently the coaching coordinator at Mountain Green. What does that involve?
My main job is making sure that any of our courses or our regular groups are staffed with coaches to run these programmes. Archery is obviously a weapon sport so you need to be really careful regarding safety. That's one of our main priorities, so we have a one-to-five coaching ratio for beginner archers. I’m also on the club committee, and sometimes teach archery too.
What motivated you to volunteer?
Volunteering is in my DNA; my grandparents and parents volunteered. When you grow up with volunteering as a core family value, you learn that part of being in a society is just giving back how you can. My mum has been heavily involved with croquet in recent years, and my grandparents were involved in bowls and tennis as volunteers - it was just what you did. My husband's parents were also volunteers, so for us, it was something that we knew that we would be doing.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering in sport in Auckland?
The range of opportunities, really. There's so much going on in Auckland that you can find something that fits every interest. I'm in a fortunate position where I'm not currently in paid employment, so I've really been able to ramp up the time that I can devote to volunteering. But even if you only did something once a year, there's so many things in Auckland that you can be involved in. You can keep it local; you don't have to go far to find clubs that need help.
What volunteering memory stands out most for you?
Very recently I was involved in organising an archery session run in association with Disability Sport Auckland. We had 15 kids come to our outdoor range for an archery taster before they took part in the Halberg Games [in October]. I organised 12 volunteers, who gave up their time to teach the kids how to be an archer. It was just fantastic to see the progress the kids made in such a short space of time, and how much everybody who volunteered their time got out of it.
What’s your advice to anyone considering volunteering?
Get in there and do it. There's really no downside, and you get back much more than you ever put in. As a parent, I believe that our kids have been more successful with sports, and enjoyed it more, because we’ve been involved their clubs. I've learned archery, but I'm not an archer myself; you don't have to be a player to be involved in a sporting club, you just need to help however you can.
Aktive and Vodafone New Zealand are thrilled to be working together to celebrate our awesome volunteers who make Auckland sport and recreation possible.
Volunteers generously give their time, knowledge, and skills to community sport and recreation, making for a happier, healthier Tāmaki Makaurau.
If you’re interested in volunteering, have a chat with your local sports club or recreation group – we’re sure your support will be hugely appreciated!