Volunteers the Heart and Soul of Canoe Polo Community

There is no doubt that volunteers are the heart of Australian sport, and this National Volunteer Week, Paddle Australia is celebrating those who make our sport possible.

Laura Kleinrahm, Vice President and Canoe Polo Convenor of Burley Griffin Canoe Club is one such volunteer, devoting a significant portion of her time to the day-to-day operation of the sport in the Australian Capital Territory and beyond.

“I’ve been playing now for just over ten years and volunteering for almost as long,” started Kleinrahm.

“The importance of volunteering was instilled in me growing up. My mum volunteered as a team manager and after experiencing first hand how much of a difference volunteers make within Polo, I decided to get more involved myself.

“I moved to Canberra and initially got involved in a casual role as the Canoe Polo convenor at my local club, but after I finished university, I got more involved,” she said.

In addition to her club-based roles, Kleinrahm is also a member of both the Paddle NSW and Paddle Australia Canoe Polo Technical Committees and recently acted as the Event Director for the 2024 Paddle Australia Canoe Polo National Championships.

Working in collaboration with her partner, Adam Hofmeyer, who volunteers his time as a coach across multiple levels of the sport, Kleinrahm notes that it is the community that inspires the pair to continue in their volunteer roles.

“The community itself is such a big part of why both Adam and I have continued to volunteer as much as we do,” she said.

“Especially in the ACT where we live, volunteering within the community has been particularly important and rewarding. 

“Seeing how it has grown and evolved since we started, in particular in terms of the number of young people and women that are taking up the sport is incredible and really refreshing.”

The importance of volunteering is not lost on Kleinrahm, who could not be more supportive and welcoming of people looking to start their volunteering journey.

“In a small sport like Canoe Polo volunteering is just so important. We don’t have any paid roles within Polo soo when everyone chips in a little it helps to build a great community like the one that we have,” she said.

“Sometimes getting involved can seem really daunting and like a huge time commitment, but volunteering can just be helping out in whichever way you’re able. 

“Whether it’s helping to book accommodation when we go away on trips or helping send emails for grant applications, everyone has different skills and can each do their own little piece. 

“If you’re considering getting into it, just talk to your local states and ask if there’s anything you can help out with. It is always welcomed when people want to get involved!”