AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) held its 2019 Volunteer Awards function at Government House on Friday 18 October where volunteers from nine categories and one Merit Award recipient were duly recognised for their outstanding contribution to the game of AFL in the Northern Territory.
The AFL Volunteer of the Year program is a recognition program which commenced as part of the Australian Football 150 years celebration in an effort to reward outstanding volunteers who have given notable voluntary service to Australian Football. It is the first time AFLNT has held a separate event just for volunteers with The Honourable Vicki O’Halloran, Administrator of the NT and Mr Craig O’Halloran presiding over the reception and welcoming the volunteers plus representatives from the football community into their home.
The first nine award recipients (as listed below) are invited to attend the State/Territory Volunteer Awards held in Melbourne during May 2020. From there, one volunteer from the Northern Territory will be crowned the ‘2019 NT National Volunteer of the Year’ and be rewarded with tickets to the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final including flights, accommodation and extras. Peter Leonard was the lucky recipient of this year’s grand final reward.
Stu Totham, CEO of AFLNT said the awards ceremony at Government House was a very special evening on Friday night.
“We received many high-class nominations and all recipients were worthy award winners. It’s fantastic to have so many role models in our football community,” he said.
“It was very special to be able to present these awards at Government House and we thank Her Honour The Administrator Vicki O’Halloran and Mr Craig O’Halloran for hosting us at Government House, it was a real thrill for everyone involved,” said Totham.
Congratulations to the following volunteers;
2019 Community Football Volunteer of the Year – Daniel Buckler
The AFL Community Football National Volunteer of the Year award recognises the outstanding work of a volunteer within the grassroots environment of local football in their local community. Daniel has been a junior coach and volunteer at the Palmerston Magpies for the past couple of season and goes over and above in his commitment to volunteering at community football. Daniel fills many roles including junior coaching, looking after club equipment, recruiting sponsors, driving players to and from training and games, timekeeping, umpiring and volunteering in the canteen.
NAB AFL Auskick Volunteer of the Year – Sharna Edwards
The NAB AFL Auskick National Volunteer of the year award recognises the outstanding work of volunteers within the Auskick community. Sharna has been a passionate and dedicated Auskick Coordinator for the St Mary’s Football Club over the past two seasons. Every week she ensures that players from the club and parents of the Auskickers are involved as volunteers who run games. She is extremely professional and organised in her approach to every session which attracts large numbers each week.
AFL Diversity Ambassador of the Year – Natalie Althouse
The AFL Diversity National Ambassador of the Year award recognises the outstanding work of a volunteer that has been able to promote inclusion for Multicultural and/or Indigenous communities in Australian Rules football. Natalie has been involved in the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club since 2012, in the capacity of player, coach, official and volunteer and enjoyed the highest success with her Under 18 Girls team in the NTFL. For the past three years Natalie has been a coach in the NT U18 Thunder Girls team as well as the Darwin Buffaloes U18 Girls team. In 2019 she also coached the Woomera's Team when they were on a visit to Darwin. Beyond her coaching she volunteers across the grades in many roles - runner, water runner, strapper, coordinates team fundraisers and is the club’s 'Wellbeing Champion'. Natalie also took it upon herself to deliver after-school football clinics for children at her school who were not selected to compete in the Inclusion Carnival and assisted in time-keeping/scoring and management of teams. She also provides transport and safe living space for children that come from remote areas, when competing in sports (not only AFL).
2019 NT Primary School Ambassador Award – Carol Putica
The AFL School National Ambassador of the year award recognises the outstanding work of volunteers within schools in promoting Australian Rules Football. Carol is the Principal of Ludmilla Primary School, a small school of around 100 students enrolled for 2019. She is always determined to ensure her students make the most of every opportunity that is available to them. So far, she has booked AFLNT in to run 108 AFL sessions for 2019 with plenty more to come for Term 4. She also organised and funded a stay at the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre, which was a great reward for the students who have had high attendance and good behaviour throughout the year.
2019 NT Secondary School Ambassador of the Year – Matthew Aird
The AFL School National Ambassador of the year award recognises the outstanding work of volunteers within schools in promoting Australian Rules Football. Matthew has entered a team for the past two years into the Secondary School Competition and successfully coached them to the grand final each year. Not only does he coach them on game day but drives them from their school to each venue, organises training sessions during the week and coordinates the team with all the off-field requirements including permission forms, medical and first aid incidents plus many more.
AFL Disability Inclusion Volunteer of the Year – Coen McKinnon
The AFL Disability Inclusion National Volunteer of the Year award recognises the outstanding work of a volunteer in promoting the inclusion of People with Disability in football. Coen is an outstanding volunteer that can be recognised as a big part of NT Thunder’s success at the National Inclusion Carnival. He just loves helping community clubs and organisations without any expectation of recognition or return on all his hard work. Coen was a massive help filling the on-field roles of an assistant coach, runner and water boy. Off-field he was even more helpful, assisting with driving the vans and navigating, doing the washing and resolving conflict and challenging issues that arose throughout the week.
2019 Junior Coach of the Year – Andrew Rock
The AFL National Junior Coach of the Year award recognises the outstanding work of a coach who works within a junior football environment in community football. Andrew is highly respected by the players, parents and siblings of the Nightcliff Football Club and other clubs. In 2018/19, on top of club coaching, he also took on the role as coach for the Darwin under 12s team in the NT championships.
2019 Senior Coach of the Year – Scott Bertus
This award recognises the outstanding work of a coach who works within a senior football environment in community football. The values Scott brings to the Katherine community reflect exactly what football should be about. A strong passion for both people and the game are projected in the form of an energetic coach, dedicated not only to the Katherine Camels Football Club, but to the wider Katherine community. Under his leadership, his club, the Camels, lead the way in assisting with the community, junior programs and involvement with umpiring.
2019 Community Umpire Service Volunteer of the Year Award – John Rawsthorne
The 2019 Umpire Volunteer of the Year Award recognises the outstanding work of volunteers within the Northern Territory Umpires Association. John has been a dedicated member of the Northern Territory Umpires Association for the past eight years, and is a former president. He is always the first on the field and the last to leave at training, building comradery between the group and imparting his vast knowledge on others. He has dedicated many unpaid hours to help coach and mentor almost all of the umpiring group as well as run water each weekend.
AFL Merit Award – Peter Leonard
The AFL Merit Award is awarded to a volunteer who has contributed significantly to Australian Football in a number of roles for a period of at least 10 years. Peter Leonard has been involved with football in the Northern Territory for over 15 years at both NTFL and NEAFL level. He gave 15 years of service to the Wanderers Football Club as a coach in juniors, Division 1 and Men’s Premier League. He was also the Assistant Coach and then Head Coach in the Men’s Premier League and is a Life Member of the Wanderers Football Club. Peter also gave 10 years of service to NT Thunder from its inception in 2009 through to the end of the 2018 NEAFL season, where he filled roles as an assistant coach/specialist coach and worked one-on-one with players areas of the game. He was also responsible for coaching box dynamics and was a key statistician on game day.