Standing up for Canberra

Sideline heroes

Years ago, Chris and I flew up to the Sunshine Coast for a 60th birthday. It was for a man I had never met, but a man who had taken on an almost mythical status in our household because of the profound affect he had on my husband.

Ian Back was Chris’ Rugby League coach between the ages of 14 and 16. He had given an overweight teenager with poor self esteem the greatest of gifts – the confidence to have faith in himself and his ability.

Last month saw the final matches of winter sport in Canberra, and the presentation nights and afternoons to honour the achievements of those on and off the field.

As patron of the Tuggeranong Bulldogs and Tuggeranong Netball Association, and the godmother of a Woden Valley Spurs player, I’ve really enjoyed catching up with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters on the sidelines of these matches and at these presentations. And what has always overwhelmed and impressed me is the dedication, camaraderie and team spirit of all involved – not just those playing the games.

So, as we farewell the days of cold knees and ears, freezing hands clenched around steaming coffee and mornings that make your cheekbones ache and eyes water, I want to say thank you.

Thank you to the tireless and selfless volunteer executive members, coaches, umpires, referees, uniform washers, tuck shop servers, roster managers, drivers, scorers, orange cutters, sausage sizzlers, first aid officers, trophy buyers, event organisers, fundraisers, newsletter writers, website managers and photographers.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to step up and have a go – often challenging yourselves to take on new roles. Without you, team sport would not exist in Canberra.

Most of all, thank you for cheering on your own or other’s children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and siblings. Thank you for encouraging them to extend themselves – to believe in themselves and their own ability.