Victorians recognised with National Volunteer Awards

The 2019 National Volunteer of the Year Award winners from each state pose for a photo together

The eight Victorian category winners have been named, as the Toyota AFL National Volunteer Awards were announced this week in an effort to recognise the supporters of Australia’s game from grassroots to the elite.

All Auskick Centres, Schools, Community Clubs and Leagues were invited to nominate an outstanding volunteer as part of the Toyota AFL National Volunteer Awards.

The AFL received over 600 nominations nationally, recognising the significant contribution our volunteers give to the game, right across the industry.

Of these 600, eight category winners were chosen as the respective recipients of the awards in each state.

<<< Scroll down to see the Victorian category winners >>>

These volunteers may have contributed to the completion of a major or significant project throughout the year, gone above and beyond throughout Covid affected season or they may be someone who has contributed to a number of roles over a long period.

National Club & Volunteer Support Manager, Alex Burgin spoke about the important role that volunteers have played in supporting community football across the country.

The AFL are so incredibly grateful to each and every one of our 220,000 community football volunteers, the unsung heroes who work tirelessly to progress our great game in various capacities – at community clubs, leagues and across every Auskick centre,” he said.

Through a difficult season in many states, the quality of nominations shows how local AFL clubs, are determined to continue working though the hurdles and achieve amazing outcomes and excellent AFL experiences for our community.

Each of these winners now goes into the running to win the national award for their category announced in mid-September, with the prize including the opportunity for a Grand Final Experience.

Congratulations to the truly deserving Volunteer of the Year Award recipients.

Victorian category winners:

Peter Willoughby (Monash Demons All Abilities Football Club; Years of service 10+) - AFL Disability Inclusion Volunteer

Peter is secretary of the club but is also responsible for registering players, organising transport for players and liaising with the league and community. Peter is also a valuable contributor on match day as he often assists with transportation of equipment and will help the players get to and from the games. As a strong advocate for inclusivity, Peter often attends meetings for the FIDA league to show his support for the league and share his well respected opinions.

Nicola Tenabel (Ascot Vale Panthers JFC; Years of service 3+) - AFL Junior Coach

Nicola is an extremely passionate and admirable coach who is setting a fantastic example for the teams she coaches and those in her community. She attends every available coaching course and spends a huge amount of spare time researching drills and is always striving to make the team better. On training and game day, she always conveys the right message and pushes the girls to do better each week, perfectly mixing together the right amount of hard work and fun. She's a passionate coach who is seeing significant improvement in her team which is a reflection of the hard work she has put into her role.

Ken Wegener (Sale Umpires Association; Years of service 23) - AFL National Community Umpiring Service

Ken has been a valued member of the Sale Umpires Association for 23 years spread cross roles as an umpire, mentor, coach, committee member and selector. Ken has personally made it his duty to ensure the SUA can fulfil all their obligations which includes providing Field, Boundary and Goal umpires to each Grade in our local leagues. He has dedicated many hours a week to appoint umpires. He is one of the most respected members of local football in his region — without Ken, the SUA would struggle to even be in existence. Ken lives and breathes the Sale Umpires Association and dedicates so much of his life to the group to ensure they can be one of the best running groups in the State. A club stalwart, he is very deserving of any recognition—not only for the work he does for the SUA—but for all of community football in the Gippsland Region.

Danielle Coates (St Francis of the Fields Primary School; Years of service 3) - AFL Primary School Ambassador

Danielle has contributed significantly to some of the great outcomes that have been achieved with AFL Central Victoria in the local Bendigo area. She has strongly supported the promotion of the game within her school of 575 students, junior clubs and the community. In particular, she has been supportive when coming out of COVID 19 lock downs with some of the AFL CV promotions that have been on offer. The school implemented with FDM support, in school sporting experiences, supported our new initiative with an after school promotion, supported the development of SEDA College students to deliver programs at the school, being flexible and agile when it comes to our AMMI AFL Football Clubs Virtual experience, along with contributing to new ideas to support the effectiveness of these new initiatives. She has also promoted the importance of connecting schools to near by Auskick Centers/Coordinators and junior football clubs.

Daniel Nolan (Wallan Football Club; Year of service 6) - AFL Senior Coach

Match day is an extension of training for Daniel and his team. His approach in pre-match, and at each quarter break is very articulate with clear messages as to what is expected. Daniel empowers the leaders in the team to take control of the warm-up and various line group meetings. Daniel uses statistical information and examples of occurrences in the quarter to communicate with players and engage with players at each quarter break. Daniel communicates the match day schedule prior to the game, communicates very clearly the role of players individually, the game style being played in offence and defence, the structures being employed for any given day to support that style, and the KPI’s of focus for each given game critical to a good result. Whilst Daniel's team wins regularly, each match is really a live training session for each player. Daniel spends time at each quarter break with players prior to heading into a team address. With a Secondary level teaching background, Daniel uses a range of techniques to educate, develop and motivate his playing group. The positive for the group is Daniel's "Team First" philosophy, and shows repeatedly that the team functions on system, not individual talent. This enables the players to buy in and believe in this approach, so when Daniel is able to use players in a number of different roles for their development, they see the team continues to function consistently and not be reliant on any one player playing a certain role.

Ben Hogan (St Bernards Football Club; Years of service 22) - NAB AFL Auskick Volunteer

Since taking overSt Bernards Football Club Auskick, Ben Hogan has increased numbers by nearly 100% to over 215+, to be the largest and fastest growing Auskick in his region. Ben—assisted by wife Melinda—is the heartbeat and spark of the Auskick program and is starting to drive a rebuild of the junior program at St Bernards. He is also the leader of the rapidly growing 'Seniors Past' players group and lives and breaths St Bernards. He is at the club 5 days a week across Auskick, juniors and senior club volunteering. Ben is very engaging & friendly and is known as the "pied piper" of Auskick and now junior clubs at St Bernards.

Vicki Hoban (Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar) - AFL Secondary School Ambassador

Vicki Hoban, the Director of Physical Education and Sport at Lowther Hall in Essendon, is always engaged and open to participate in AFL programs. Vicki is heavily involved in arranging clinics for the Year 7-9 girls, as well as assistance with inter-school sport and education. Vicki is an ambassador for community sport and always strives to support the local leagues, particularly in female football.

David Folley (Caulfield Bears FNC; Years of service 56) - Toyota AFL Community Football Volunteer

Caulfied Bears FNC was formed in 1993 following the merger of St Kevins Ormond FC & St Andrews Gardenvale FC, and David has continuously served StAG and CBFNC in various voluntary roles since 1965 to the present day. A brief biography of the roles he has played since 1965 is shown below.

• Secretary St Andrews Gardenvale FC (1965 - 1967)

• Treasurer St Andrews Gardenvale FC (1968 - 1992)

• President St Andrews Gardenvale FC (1974 - 1975)

• General Committee Caulfield Bears FNC (1993 - 1996)

• Treasurer Caulfield Bears FNC (1997 - 1999)

• Timekeeper Caulfield Bears FNC (1993 - present 2021)

• He also managed to somehow find the time to play 377 games with St Andrews Gardenvale FC b/w 1963 & 1982