“I grew up in a small country town where sport was only possible with community support.”
It’s this community mentality that is still instilled in Stand Up Paddling volunteer Darren Pratt.
Darren has been involved in the sport at all levels, starting as a volunteer at his local club in Western Australia.
These days, Darren serves on the Paddle Australia SUP Discipline Technical Committee, but still enjoys getting back to the grassroots and seeing the sport grow.
“I am a committee member of my local club, and in that capacity I was involved in liaising with Paddle WA about SUP related matters and advocating for the interests of SUP paddlers,” Darren said.
“When Paddle Australia called for SUP volunteers, some people at Paddle WA suggested that I put my hand up for it.
“I’m pretty sure they did it so I’d go and start knocking on other people’s doors instead of theirs,” he joked.
Darren said that one of the things he loves most about being a paddle volunteer is the vision for the future.
“I’m passionate about SUP and Paddle Australia’s vision of a united paddling community,” Darren said.
“I want to see SUP developed and also to break down the idea that paddling exists in little discrete silos.
“For me, one of the most important things about paddling is the joy of being out on the water. One of the fabulous things about SUP is that because you’re standing up, you get to see a lot more and can really appreciate the beautiful environments we have to paddle in.
“I really want to share that with people across the other paddling disciplines too,” he said.
Volunteering was something that Darren was raised around, hailing from a small country town.
“I grew up in a small country town where sport was only possible with community support and involvement at every level down to developing and maintaining the grounds and facilities,” Darren said.
“You’d have people travelling big distances to attend and they’d stay for the whole day. The kids would play sport, mum and dad would help out with coaching, umpiring or in the canteen or sausage sizzle…everyone was involved.
“The thing about having that community mindset is that as humans we thrive on social connection and interaction, and that’s one thing I love about volunteering.”
Darren encourages others involved in the sport to “give back to your community.”
“Even if you’re not prepared to volunteer, support the people who do. Turn up and participate – even coming last is way more awesome than all those people who didn’t compete.
“And while you’re there, thank the organisers and volunteers.”