Three of our nine volunteers nominated for the 2020 AFL National Volunteer Awards have been successful in their category. Congratulations to Brett Nelson for winning the AFL Secondary School Ambassador, Heather Timms for winning the AFL Disability Inclusion Volunteer Award, and to Daniel Gibbons for winning the AFL National Community Umpiring Service Award.
Each State / Territory nominated their respective volunteers of the year across each of the categories and they were nominated for the AFL National Volunteer Awards. The national category winners each receive a $1,000 cash prize and additional $500 for their affiliated group (Club, Auskick Centre, Umpire Group or School) or a charity of their choice.
Below is a summary of Brett, Heather, and Daniel’s contribution to our game.
Brett Nelson – AFL Secondary School Ambassador
Brett has been an AFL School Ambassador for four years. During this time, he has supported the students at Edmund Rice College Bindoon, coordinating many high school carnivals in the Midlands Region.
In 2016, Brett encouraged a group of boys to play community football and a handful of boys joined the Chittering Bronco’s JFC. The following year the number more than doubled and girls also started participating. Since then, Brett has implemented a range of initiatives to engage students to play in community football across the region. Brett has been instrumental in getting the girls to join clubs across the region.
Although disappointed he missed out on the trip over East, Brett is over the moon with being the recipient of the 2020 AFL Secondary School Ambassador Award.
“The greatest challenge of 2020 was the unknown COVID brought. It was tough not knowing when we were able to play sports again,” Brett said.
“But the greatest success of the year has definitely been winning this award."
“After seeing all the other category finalists, it’s an honour to have won. What they have contributed to footy is great.”
The $500 donation will go to Edmund Rice College, helping them get better-quality sports equipment. A football will also be purchased to go on display in the school’s trophy cabinet as a memento for the success and something the kids can be proud of.
Brett volunteers to be a part of the community and to support the kids and other community members. He wants to provide skills and show love to the students to help them understand that even outside their immediate family, they will find support, mentors, and parental figures.
Brett has learnt a lot from others, both inside and outside of the school environment, and wants to support the community anywhere and however he can. When students get results on and off-field, Brett is reminded why he will always continue contributing to his communities.
Heather Timms – AFL Disability Inclusion Volunteer
Heather Timms has volunteered for over ten years across a variety of roles including coordinating fundraising, Volunteer Manager, Team Manager and sitting on the State Team Advisory Committee.
She as provided loyal service to Fremantle CBC Football Club, the CBC All Abilities Team and has been the WAAFL State Team Parent Representative for approximately nine-years. Heather has also had strong involvement in the Perth Football League (PFL) Integrated Football Competition since 2009, driving sponsorship, increasing new membership and has a proven track record when it comes to increasing volunteer opportunities within football.
Heather does her utmost to promote football in WA as a sport that is accessible and available to all people, particularly those that are from non-traditional demographics. Heather uses her extensive network to build the capacity of the club and state team for people with intellectual disabilities. She continuously displays a strong ability to positively influence clubs/groups to improve culture and provide a fair, safe and inclusive environment.
The growth of the WA Integrated Football Program has brought Heather great pride. Fremantle CBC has grown from one team and 24-players to two-teams and 44-registered players. The WA Integrated League has expanded from three teams to over ten, now giving over 280-players with intellectual disabilities a chance to be involved and play Aussie Rules Football and have a greater connection with the community. Heather can’t wait for future expansion, hoping for Perth to soon have Integrated programs available to people of all ages.
Being involved in WA State Team through her son’s involvement is one of the many parts of volunteering Heather treasures. She has planned and organised three Melbourne Football Trips with assistance of coaching and parent support, giving 26-players the opportunity to travel for footy.
Western Australia was fortunate to get nine games away in the 2020 season.
“We all know how important football is to our players, however I didn’t realise the impact it would have on players during the COVID lockdown,” Heather said.
“We were all very grateful when the league organised F.I.T training sessions via Zoom twice a week for all players to join.”
The $500 will be donated to the Fremantle CBC Integrated Football Team. The money will go towards purchasing new footballs for the team, which they desperately need for next season.
Daniel Gibbons – AFL National Community Umpiring Service
Daniel has been the Demons District Umpire Manager for the last nine seasons. Throughout this time the recruitment and retention of umpires continues to grow. He has set up strong systems and provides both administrational assistance and coaching to ensure the best environment possible is provided to umpires.
Daniel has been a leader amongst the Junior Community Umpiring ranks in WA and has set a high benchmark for the way in which other districts have learnt from his example. Dan’s willingness to support other groups is an example of the pride he has for his group and the broader umpiring community.
The most satisfying part of Dan’s 10-years with the Demons District Football Umpires Association has been to support the umpires in their development on and off the field.
The cash prize Dan receives for being his category winner will support our Association to continue to enhance our development programs which Dan continues to be involved in.
“For our Association to have a strong culture and reputation for developing great umpires and quality people is something that gives me immense pride.”
“I’ve been fortunate to work with great people along the way and their contributions and support has meant a lot to me.”
Well done to our other AFL National Volunteer Awards Finalists, John Sobolewski, Sharon Wood-Kenney, Will Hammond, Jack Lewsey, and David Lewis.