An estimated 2.3 million Australians volunteer their effort to sport and physical activity each year and some of the most dedicated and generous of those belong to the BMX Australia family.

In the simplest of terms, the 2019 BMXA BAD BOY National Championships could not happen if it weren’t for the dozens of volunteers who will selflessly give up their time to officiate across what is a huge week for the sport.

Aptly, this year the nationals sit right in the middle of National Volunteer Week – a period where we celebrate the six million Australians who volunteer their time to causes – and Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer says no industry benefits more than sport.

“Volunteers donate 158 million hours to sport a year, that’s the equivalent of almost 90,000 full-time jobs,” Palmer said.

“Research has conservatively valued that contribution at $3 billion, but to me and the Australian sporting industry our volunteers are priceless – they are the backbone of the Australian sport industry.

“It would be misleading to describe volunteering as a thankless task, because Australian sport has some of the most passionate and committed volunteers in the world. Volunteering is linked to positive mental, social and physical benefits.

“At the same time we need to ensure our volunteers feel valued, because the reality is many sports in Australia may not exist without the commitment and dedication of our volunteers.

“We should celebrate our volunteers every day, but I urge every Australian sporting participant to make an extra effort and reach out this week and say thanks. It could be giving your mum or dad and extra hug for coaching your football team. It could be giving the officials three cheers at the end of your match or simply saying thanks. It could be helping the team manager carry the sporting kit-bag.

“You might even want to take the tongs at the canteen barbecue one weekend and volunteer yourself. The more volunteers Australian sport has, the stronger we will be.”

Every BMX volunteer is a valued member of our community but few have contributed more than Pam Beerens (pictured above).

A life member of the Park Orchards club and BMX Victoria, Beerens first volunteered at her club in 1992 and 27 years later is still giving her time at all levels of the sport. This year’s nationals will be her 22nd as a volunteer official at the sport’s premier annual domestic event.

This week Beerens will spend time in registration and on the track, even though her children have now moved onto another stage in life and no longer compete. She is also the secretary of BMX Victoria and volunteers for the Country Fire Authority in her home state.

She sums up all the hard work, time and effort in one word.

“Rewarding. Very rewarding,” Beerens said.

“I enjoy it. I’ve been volunteering since I had my first child when I volunteered with a new mothers’ group and it’s all gone from there.

“I’ve moved up with what the children were doing going to school, primary school, then high school and onto their other activities and that led to BMX.

“Once you’re a volunteer, you’re always a volunteer. It just becomes part of you.

“There are highs and lows but the rewards you get far outweigh anything negative that goes with it. That’s life isn’t it?”

Beerens said she has made lifelong friendships through the sport.

“We have travelled to every state with my two children to race and some of them we have been to on numerous occasions and I’ve got friends as a consequence in every state,” she said.

“If there’s a race meeting on in any state I can ring ahead and say ‘hey I’m coming through, is there a bed and the answer would be yes’.

“So it’s a friendship base, it’s a support base, it’s a chance to get together. Particularly the nationals. Some people you only see once a year and that’s at the nationals. So, it’s a very good reason to go to the nationals.”

The theme of National Volunteer Week is “Making a world of difference” and there is no doubt that tagline fits perfectly for those giving their time to the BMXA family this week. People like Pam Beerens.

From all of us, to all of you, thank you!