Volunteering helps career transition | 22.07.2012
|Ayşegül Baklaci with her athletics trophies and her scholarship for the
Future Women Leaders Programme.
Turkey's Ayşegül Baklaci has managed that transition admirably and the former national champion and record holder is a role model for athletes in her country and abroad.
Although Ayşegül (pronounced i-she-gul) began her sporting career as a triple jumper, her love for athletics took her beyond the track. Taking up volunteering opportunities at competitions where she was not competing, she developed her technical knowledge of the sport.
When she hung up her spikes for the last time, her career progression plan was already in motion, and she has not looked back since.
Ayşegül decided to continue her association with athletics by becoming a sports coordinator at her club, Enka Sports Club, one of the biggest in her country, and by serving on the technical committee of the Turkish athletics federation.
In 2009 the federation nominated her for a scholarship to take part in the European Athletics Future Women Leaders Programme. The programme included attending the 2010 European Athletics-UNESCO Young Leaders Forum in Barcelona, where she became a member of the Young Leaders Community.
"Barcelona was a great experience for me. I got to meet the speakers like Steve Cram and Sergey Bubka, make new athletics friends and pick up a lot of new ideas," she explains.
She has since worked with the local organising committee of the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships and recently she as has been hired to commentate on the athletics events at the Olympic Games in London for Turkish television.
Even with her busy professional programme, Ayşegül has found time to continue volunteering in the sport and she has clocked up enough hours to receive the European Athletics-UNESCO Bronze Volunteer Certificate.
We caught up with her recently for a quick interview.
How did you get into volunteering in sport?
I was an athlete, but my interest in the sport stretched beyond just competing. Even during my time as an athlete, I used to seek out opportunities to work at athletics competition as a volunteer. I love to work for athletics and volunteering opportunities helped me find my feet as I was making a transition from an athlete to a sports professional.
Tell us about the partner organisation where you have done most of your volunteer hours?
Usually, I work at every international competition held in Turkey within the local organising committee (LOC) or the technical information centre (TIC). The most recent event that I worked at was the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.
What is the most important thing you have gained from your volunteer experience?
At a personal level, working at sporting event has prepared me to seek out practical solutions to challenges, work in a team and it has also helped instil leadership qualities in me.
How did your television job come about?
I had official duties with the Turkish team at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki and I was asked to help with some media work. I ended up speaking on the television, and now I am going to London to do the same thing.
Do you have a favorite athlete? Who is it and why?
Jonathan Edwards. I was a triple jumper, so my all-time favourite athlete has to be a triple jumper. I also like Sergey Bubka, whose achievements as an athlete are legendary. Today, I look up to him as one of the most respected sports leaders.
To see Ayşegül's profile CLICK HERE.
Are you a member of the European Athletics Young Leaders Community and doing volunteer work in athletics? Be sure that the club, event or school where you are working is registered as a partner, or that your personal project is registered, so you can log your hours and your valuable contribution to the sport can be recognised.
Certificates are now being sent to members of the community (Bronze for 100 hours, Silver for 250 hours and Gold for 500 hours) and athleticscommunity.org will be publishing spotlight profiles of many of the winners in the coming weeks and months.