How Fair Game Academy Uncovered My Leadership Potential: A Volunteer Reflection by Tom Carello
My name is Tom and I have worked with Fair Game for two years. The impact Fair Game has on the communities it visits is well known, however less reported is the impact it has on its volunteers.
When I joined Fair Game, I was starting out in my first year of medical school. This was a time of change for me, with a cohort of 250 new people to meet, new expectations of me as a medical student and a completely new day-to-day routine. While I’ve never been a particularly confident person, these changes led me to become more withdrawn, second-guessing every action that I did and struggling to approach unfamiliar faces. Somehow, along the way I managed to befriend the inspiring Jordan Korol, who introduced me to the work of Fair Game.
One year later, I was given the opportunity to coordinate Fair Game’s Perth sessions. Together with an old friend and a new one, I was eased into a position of leadership. While finding my feet, I could rely on my friends to take control when I wasn’t feeling confident and I learnt a lot by observing their techniques. As each week went by I began to feel myself slowly step up, but still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was the weak link in the team.
It wasn’t until I went on my first rural trip with Fair Game that I truly began to find my self-confidence.
On the first evening of the trip, we sat by a waterhole in Marble Bar and reflected on what we wanted to achieve from the trip. I explained my story to the team and how I hoped to finally address my confidence issue that had crippled me for as long as I could remember. With the help of an incredible team, I quickly upgraded from participating in sessions to leading activities, and then running games by myself when situations required it. This was the first time I had ever felt comfortable leading a group of people without being overcome by nerves.
Fair Game’s message is something I am very passionate about – there is nothing I want more than to know I’ve made a difference in improving the profile of cardiovascular disease in Australia. Seeing the unmet needs of under-serviced Australians first hand solidified my desire to make a difference in these communities. Looking back, it was the combination of a supportive team, a desire to make a difference and pride to be a part of Fair Game that made my nerves feel so insignificant, allowing me to overcome them.
Since returning from the Pilbara trip, my life has improved ten-fold.
While working with the other Perth coordinators is still the highlight of my week, I no longer feel dependent on them to be able to run a session. In the hospital setting, my newfound confidence has helped me build better rapport with patients and consultant, making my day a lot more fulfilling. Doctors have a fundamental role to be a leader, and thanks to Fair Game I finally, after more than twenty years of struggles, feel I can achieve that.
Fair Game’s dedicated, passionate volunteers are a major organisational asset enabling us to progress in our mission to create an equitable, healthier and sustainable Australia. Our team of trained ‘Fair Gamers’ donated 4600 volunteer hours in 2018 to deliver our programs to some of the most remote communities in WA ranging from Perth metro area through the Wheatbelt and Mid-West and beyond to the Pilbara and Kimberley.
ABOUT FAIR GAME
An Act-Belong-Commit partner, FAIR GAME provides unique health and fitness programs and recycled sports equipment, building the capacity of under-serviced communities to promote healthy lifestyles choices and live healthier lives.
Fair Game’s programs have been designed by healthcare professionals and in conjunction with relevant government and local organisations to ensure delivery of consistent health messages. They are designed to reduce preventable disease, improve social cohesion and mental wellbeing. Recycled sports equipment removes barriers to participation in sport as well as benefiting the environment.