Volunteer Awards

Ian 'Cactus' Howard: 60 years of service to country footy

Ian 'Cactus' Howard after receiving his award at the 2023 AFL Victoria Community Awards, alongside WorkSafe Executive Director Strategic Delivery, Ash West (left) and WorkSafe ambassador Tom Boyd. Photo: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos
Volunteers are the lifeblood of community football and nobody epitomises the importance and commitment of volunteers more than Kyabram's Ian Howard. 

Howard, or 'Cactus' as he's affectionately known, was deservedly recognised as the WorkSafe Country Volunteer of the Year at the 2023 AFL Victoria Community Awards, held last week at Ikon Park. Click here for the full list of winners. 

His volunteering spans over 60 years of service to the local community and his other honours include being awarded life membership at the Kyabram Umpires and the Goulburn Valley League (GVL).

Howard grew up in Kyabram as a sports-made youngster who who went on to dedicate a lifetime to community football at club and league levels. He has held positions as coach, president, tribunal member and secretary.

He commenced playing in 1954 in the U15s at the Kyabram Boys Club in the Kyabram District Football League and then played 16 games at the Footscray Bulldogs in 1960. After finishing his career in the VFL, he returned to Kyabram, where he coached U18s at Lancaster and Kyabram. At the completion of his playing days, he went on to help form the Kyabram Football Umpires Association, where he was president for over ten years.

With the creation of the regional tribunal, Howard has been the tribunal secretary, a role he has performed for the past seven years. He has also been member of the GVL board, GVL interleague teams and GVL Hall of Fame committee.

Congratulations Ian and on behalf of AFL Victoria, WorkSafe and everyone who you've had an impact on in your time in the game, thank you for all you have done and continue to do for Australian football.

Cactus with wife Lorice at the 2023 AFL Victoria Community Awards held at Ikon Park on Friday 20 October, 2023. Photo:  Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos

Cactus in the font row as Coach of the Kyabram Umpires Association in 1978-79

Cactus during his Footscray VFL playing days with the late EJ Whitten