Doncaster Junior Football Club volunteer Lou Ioan has been recognised for his tireless work with the Victorian AFL State Volunteer of the Year Award. Jake Morris reports.
Volunteers are the beating heart of what makes local football great, and every year, the most hardworking and committed volunteers across the county are recognised for their work through the AFL State Volunteer of the Year Award.
For 2017, the recipient from Victoria could not have gone to a more diligent and deserving winner in Lou Ioan from the Doncaster Junior Football Club in Melbourne’s south-east.
Lou has worked tirelessly for over a decade across all avenues of the football club, including but not limited to coaching, grounds keeping, presidency and merchandising, all without a single complaint.
Lou began his work at the football club in 2006, when he started coaching and coordinating two Auskick clinics operating from Doncaster Oval and Schramms Reserve, in which both his sons participated in. Lou’s passion for developing the next generation of AFL players saw him continue in this role for another six years, well after his sons had moved on from the Auskick program. During this time until 2013, Lou coached his sons under 10s and under 12s sides, regularly participating in committee meetings and even incorporating a groundsman’s role into his spare time to make sure his side was playing the sport they loved in a safe environment.
Shortly after, Lou stepped into an assistant coach’s role at the club with the task of mentoring one of the brand-new Head Coaches at the club. Holding this position for a year, Lou’s ability to encourage and guide the new coach saw the head coach step into the role with absolute confidence the following season.
While maintaining his work as a groundsman at the football club, Lou also began his work in a merchandising role, tasked with advertising and distributing official club gear.
In 2016, while continually working behind the scenes with merchandising and grounds keeping, Lou also took on the role of Vice President of the football club. As part of this, he offered to drive a young coach to and from training every week so they could continue to be involved in the sport.
Today, Lou can be seen bright and early every Sunday morning dedicating his time to his beloved football club. Installing goal post padding, sweeping the club rooms as well creating an initiative to donate unneeded and old football boots to other communities who may need them are just some of the tasks keeping Lou busy.
Humbled by the award, Lou believes that his work behind the scenes at the club doesn’t need the recognition.
“I think they’ve given the award to the wrong bloke,” Lou said.
“Footy is my life and I would continue to help out any way I can right until they tell me to stop.”
As a reward for his tireless effort behind the scenes of the Doncaster Junior Football Club, Lou was invited to be part of the 2017 Toyota AFL Grand Final Parade and received two tickets to the Grand Final clash between Richmond and Adelaide, an experience he says he will never forget.
“This is one the greatest things to ever happen to me,” Lou said.
“It was an absolutely sensational experience and I was truly overcome with the entire weekend.”
With another football season done and dusted, Lou will now begin to turn his attention to the senior side, with his youngest son set to move from the juniors to the seniors, and has already offered his services for a role on the committee of the Doncaster Football Club.