Published on November 11, 2016 10:53 pm

Community Football's Best Honoured

Some of Victoria’s best coaches, volunteers and umpires were honoured for their contribution to community football this season at the 2016 AFL Victoria Community Football Awards Night on November 11.

Over 500 guests were in attendance to celebrate all aspects of grassroots football from across all corners of Victoria.

Among the attendees was Richmond senior coach Damien Hardwick who spoke about his coaching philosophy and the importance Victoria’s 78,000 volunteers have on the sustainability of Australian Football.

In its second year, the AFL Victoria Community Football Awards Night is an amalgamation of the traditional Australian Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Awards and NAB AFL Auskick Volunteer Awards.

Of the 15,000 accredited coaches across Victoria, the state’s finest were recognised across five AFCA Coach of the Year award categories- NAB AFL Auskick, Junior, Youth, Female and Senior, as well as the best Umpire Coaches from metropolitan and country Victoria.

Taking home the Ray Allsopp NAB AFL Auskick Coach of the Year Award was Peter Saw from the Torquay Auskick centre, while this year’s David Parkin Junior Coach of the Year Award was presented to Central Saints Junior Football Club coach, Phil Guthrie.

South Mildura Football Netball Club’s Patrick Irwin was awarded the Stan Alves Youth Coach of the Year, Bendigo Thunder Women’s FC coach Cherie O’Neill claimed the Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year Award and Travis Hodgson took home the coveted Gerard FitzGerald Senior Coach of the Year for his efforts at the Bacchus Marsh Football Club.

The top umpire coaches were also recognised for their contribution to the game, with Ballarat Football Umpires Association member, Roger Le Grand (Country) and Essendon District Football League umpire, Mark Volich (Metro) presented with the Umpire Coach of the Year awards.

One of the highlights from the night was the Allan Jeans Lifetime Achievement Award which was awarded to AFL Goulburn Murray stalwart Michael O’Dwyer for his outstanding contribution to coaching and coach education in Victoria.

Assisting hundreds of players with their football careers over the last 35-years, O’Dwyer becomes the eighth person to receive the award in AFCA’s 29 year history.

Some of the state’s best NAB AFL Auskick regional managers and long-time volunteers were also recognised for their efforts this season with the Half Time Recognition Awards, Service Awards and Volunteer of the Year Award.

Outer North West NAB AFL Auskick Region District Manager Michelle Whitehand claimed the 2016 NAB AFL Auskick Volunteer of the Year award for her work with the Melton Saturday Centre.

The AFL Victoria Community Football Awards night also acknowledged the worthy recipients of the AFL Merit Awards, WorkSafe AFL Victoria Country Volunteer of the Year Award, AFL Victoria Metropolitan State Volunteer of the Year and recognised Victoria’s 2016 Football Integration Development Association (FIDA) All- Australian players.

Stay tuned at next week for a look at all the winners from tonight’s awards.

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