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Top summer of sport with Euros & Olympics would not happen without grassroots

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THIS is going to be a brilliant ­­summer of sport.

We’ve got the men’s Euros starting next month — where Scotland will be out to impress and England have a real chance of winning the whole thing — and then the really big one: the Olympic Games in Paris a month later.

Gary Lineker is supporting The Big Help Out which aims to boost volunteering across Britain

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Gary Lineker is supporting The Big Help Out which aims to boost volunteering across BritainCredit: Mark Field
Katarina Johnson-Thompson will represent Britain at the Olympics - the biggest stage of all

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson will represent Britain at the Olympics – the biggest stage of allCredit: PA

The great thing about the Olympics is not just that it’s the absolute pinnacle of human sporting achievement.

It’s that, for the vast majority of ­­competitors, it’s one moment to show the whole world the fruits of a lifetime of hard work.

All those early mornings, all those days in the gym, all that blood, sweat and tears.

And for every single one of those ­competitors in Paris there will be a whole host of special people they want to thank for helping them get there.

A massive difference

Parents, coaches, loved ones, training partners — no one gets there alone.

But you know what? Sport isn’t just about winning medals and trophies at the top level.

For millions of us, sport is one of the great joys of life. And from Sunday league football to village cricket and crown green bowls, grassroots sport relies on its own army of volunteers to make it happen.

There are special people at every level.

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Whether it’s the coach, the ref, the groundsman, the person who does the teas, washes the kit or sorts the fixture lists, there are people in every community who give a bit of their time to make sure the rest of us can play.

And we need them more than ever.

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We’ve got two million fewer people volunteering in sport than we had six years ago.

Covid, of course, is a huge factor — volunteering is a habit and being stuck inside all day every day broke the routine.

The whole voluntary sector is struggling to get back to where it was, sport included.

That’s really important, because a new survey this week found that more than half of community sports clubs are short of volunteers.

Clubs can fold if they haven’t got the people to make them work, so by getting involved you could be saving something special for a whole community.

Without those clubs, millions of our lives would be poorer — and thousands of elite athletes’ careers might not even get started.

Fewer gold medals at the Olympics, less to look forward to for the enthusiastic amateur at home.

Volunteering makes grassroots sport happen. It’s as simple as that.

And the great thing about volunteering is it’s not just of benefit to others — it makes a massive difference to you, too.

Ask the people who volunteer in grass-roots sport why they do what they do and nine times out of ten they’ll say the same thing: “Because I love it.”

It’s a proven fact that volunteering is good for your mental health, good for your self-esteem — and in this age of staying in and wasting time on social media, it’s a great way of meeting people too.

The Euros begin next month, and England's potential success will be owed partly to grassroots volunteers

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The Euros begin next month, and England’s potential success will be owed partly to grassroots volunteersCredit: Getty

That’s why I’m supporting the Big Help Out — it’s the country’s biggest volunteering opportunity, and it takes place next month on the long weekend from Friday, June 7, until Sunday, June 9.

Last year more than seven million of us got involved.

One of the things I really like about the Big Help Out is that it’s a chance to give things a try.

You don’t have to commit to weeks or even days of helping out.

Just give it a go for an hour — you could be coaching a football team or something completely ­different, cleaning up a local beauty spot, or manning the tills at a charity shop.

It doesn’t really matter what you do — and I promise you it is so rewarding to give something back to your community.

Sporting tradition

Also, the good news is, it could not be easier to get involved.

Just download the Big Help Out app, tell it what you’re interested in and where you live and it will tell you all the activities that might suit in your area.

So whether it’s food banks in Falmouth or kids’ cricket in Chiswick there are hundreds of thousands of ways to take part.

There are lots of things that make this country great — and our brilliant sporting tradition is certainly one of them.

But like anything in life, you get out what you put in, and our sports clubs need us to put a little more in so we can keep enjoying all the great things they provide.

Another great thing about Britain is our tradition of volunteering.

So on the Big Help Out in 2024, why not get involved — it could be the best thing you do all year.

The Big Help Out aims to give a boost to Britain's tradition of volunteering

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The Big Help Out aims to give a boost to Britain’s tradition of volunteeringCredit: BIG HELP OUT
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