Pioneer volunteers: the role identity of continuous volunteers at sport events
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This study examines the role identity of pioneer volunteers. This research expands current conceptualisations of event volunteers to include those individuals who volunteer in a continuous nature in the lead up to a mega-event. Volunteers (n ¼ 125) who had volunteered in the lead up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, as well as during the Games, completed a post-event survey that asked them to respond to open-ended questions about their volunteering experience and identity. Additionally, 10 individuals who were pioneer volunteers at the Sydney Olympics were interviewed 12 years later. Six themes described the experience of pioneer volunteers: friendship and teamwork enabled by prolonged volunteering; prestige and teamwork enabled by a small, select group; behind the scenes access and knowledge of the event; learning enabled by the experience of test events; a sense of connection with and ownership of the event; and transition to Games time roles. Pioneer volunteers experienced a strong and sustained identification with their role, and sought out continued opportunities to volunteer in the post-event period. The existence of a volunteer role identity was evident 12 years after the event. The findings of this research provide valuable lessons for recruitment, retention, and transition of event volunteers.
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