Two Victorian teachers have been recognised for their work in developing the game of Australian Football for students this season, following the announcement of the 2017 AFL Victoria School Ambassadors of the Year on Sunday. Mitch Wynd reports.
Michael Goodyear of New Gisborne Primary School was acknowledged for his work this season with the Primary Schools Ambassador of the Year award, while Mark Robinson of Glen Waverley Secondary College was the winner of the Secondary Schools Ambassador of the Year award.
The Woolworths AFL Schools Ambassador Program aims to resource, recognise and reward teachers who strongly promote the game of Australian Football in the classroom and on the sporting field.
With over 2,000 School Ambassadors across Victoria, Goodyear and Robinson stood out from their peers and were recognised for their outstanding work this season.
Goodyear, inspired by the success of AFLW, worked to create additional opportunities for girls to get involved with Australian football in the greater Gisborne area.
“We put it to our district that we start our own girls competition and we were hoping to get a little bit of interest, and it went from there. From that point onwards, we tried out seven schools in the district, whoever wanted to participate, and we thought that even if we got two or three schools I’d be happy to run the carnival,” he said.
“Personally, I thought with my school, if I could get 20 girls to try it out I’d be rapt, and we had 40 girls who turned up to training, they didn’t miss a training session and it sort of went from there and snowballed.”
Not only did Goodyear look to develop girls’ football at New Gisborne Primary School, but also the town’s own junior girls’ team.
“It looks promising that we should be able to start an U13s team which will hopefully have a ripple effect and we’ll soon have an U15s team which we can add to our U17s youth side and our women’s side,” he said.
“Hopefully it will grow from there, and it’s looking really promising at this stage.”
Meanwhile, at Glen Waverley Secondary College, Mark Robinson was working hard to establish development and participation programs for multicultural students.
“I just thought it would be a great opportunity for our school because we have a high population of students from overseas and we have a high EAL background,” he said.
“I felt it was a real possibility for us to give them some opportunities to get outside of the classroom, improve their health and fitness, get involved in Australian culture and the indigenous game here, and really just encourage more people to get out, get active, and get involved in footy.”
In order to achieve this, Robinson reached out to a number of AFL clubs throughout the year and organised a host of activities for the students to experience.
“It’s fantastic to see kids engaging with footy,” he said.
“I set up some contacts with Greater Western Sydney because our school logo is GWSC and they sponsored us for the first couple of years…. we also had the opportunity to walk through the Holden Centre and did a tour of the Collingwood Football Club which was great.
“I also took our multicultural squads over to Arden Street to engage with one of North Melbourne’s community projects, which was all about careers, community, and culture.”
When asked about the best part of their work, both winners said they were proud to see young people positively impacted by Australian Football.
“The best thing was having girls who don’t necessarily play sport at the moment say that next year they’re going to play football,” Goodyear said.
“It’s a real point of pride for me…to give these kids the big picture of life, it’s not just all about study, it’s not just all about your VCE, there are other ways and other opportunities for you in life and football is just one of them,” Robinson said.