IT takes a lot of dedication for a man in his 20s to volunteer away his evenings and weekends, at the expense of his own social life.
But in a normal week 28-year-old Matthew Knowles does just that, giving his time to numerous sports clubs and earning a volunteer of the year nomination in the Flybe Pride in Mann awards in the process.
Matthew’s friend Nick Barlow, of Peel, put him forward.
Nick said: ‘He gives a lot of time, and loves it, it’s not a chore to him at all. I remember him telling me about all the groups he works with, he doesn’t just dedicate himself to one thing. I was trying to get it out of him though, he’s very modest.
‘He’s a young person giving up nights out to volunteer Saturday and Sunday mornings, and that’s pretty good.’
The best way for Matthew, of Pulrose, to list his voluntary workload is to explain a normal week.
‘On Monday night I do disability football, I’m now a qualified coach for them,’ he said.
‘Every other Tuesday I coach juniors for the Football Association’s Three Lions club, I manage to change my work hours so it doesn’t impact work life. On Wednesday nights it’s the Wooden Spoon wheelchair sports club 7pm-9pm. I get involved more than actual coaching there.
‘And last season I had my own under 11s team at Union Mills Football Club, that was Thursday nights, some Saturdays and matches on Sundays.’
What keeps him so involved?
‘It’s the feel good factor to be honest,’ Matthew explained. ‘Just seeing the smiles on faces after the banter. And having an impact on these kids’ futures, you can’t put a price on that.’
He started out volunteering through Manx Sport and Recreation, feeling he had something to offer.
‘Before I started volunteering, I was saving for somewhere to live, and instead of getting an extra part time job in a bar, I applied for Leonard Cheshire disability,,’ Matthew recalled.
‘The first couple of days in, I realised how intense it really is. I had a reality check, seeing people who are 30 or 40 years old suddenly bed ridden. I felt a connection, but it was tough, and thought I could help better through sport, rather than care.’
Despite the taxing timetable, it is still something he believes in.
‘The wheelchair club is the only one on the island, there’s not enough out there. We do basketball and racquet sports but it’d be good to get wheelchair rugby going too. With the Paralympics being on, it’s good that wheelchair users are seeing what’s possible and the range of activities and sports that can be done.’
Has he ever thought about a switch in careers?
‘I’m a corporate manager for a bank. It would be a risk giving that up, though it would be fun!’
Nominations for this year’s Pride in Mann awards have now closed.
• We’ll be explaining how you can vote in Pride in Mann soon.