2019 Victorian Sport Award Finalists

Congratulations to the below individuals, teams, organisations, clubs and events for progressing through to the finalist stage of the 2019 Victorian Sport Awards



This award recognises Victorian coaches who have achieved outstanding coaching performance/s with Victorian athlete/s or teams at a state, national, international, or elite sport level during the 2019 year.


Lisa Alexander - Netball
A mainstay of Australian netball, Lisa coached her 100th test at the helm of the Australian Diamonds this year while winning the 2019 Constellation Cup and finishing Runners-Up at the 2019 World Cup. Passionate about the continual development and growth of netball in Victoria, Lisa is a regular speaker at functions where she passes on her knowledge of coaching as well as the qualities of leadership and personal development.

Jeff Hopkins - Football
Guiding Melbourne Victory to the Westfield Women’s League Premiership in 2019, Jeff also took home Coach of the Year honours. In addition, Victory became the first Australian participant club to be invited to compete in the Women’s Asian Club Championships. Synonymous with the female football pathway for many years, Jeff is active in delivering coach education and female participation workshops across Victoria. This includes Melbourne Victory’s first Girls Pre-Academy Centre for talented females aged 8-14, a pilot which will be expanded to two further metropolitan centres in 2020.
Peter McNeil - Mogul Skiing
Coaching at the highest international level including World Championships and at the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, Peter made tremendous progress in 2019 through continued development of his younger athletes as well as outstanding results by World Championship silver medalist Jakara Anthony. Going above and beyond his work with Australia's elite mogul skiing athletes, Peter mentors aspiring coaches, sits on a number of committees and is readily available to develop the next wave of coaches.
Scott Talbot - Swimming
Scott is the High Performance coach at Nunawading Swimming Club which took home the 2019 Premiership Club of the Year. Coaching two swimmers in the Australian team that competed at the 2019 FINA World Championships, Scott also had four athletes selected to the Australian 2019 Summer Universiade team where he participated as a coach as well. Across 2019, his athletes won over 30 national championship medal. An active member in the Swimming Victoria Performance Pathways Program, Scott acts as a mentor coach and is able to share his international experience and skills with developing coaches throughout the state.

This award recognises the exceptional contribution made by a Victorian community sporting coach during 2019, either on or off the sporting field, with a focus on improving community sport through encouraging participation, fairness, integrity and making sport more welcoming, safe and inclusive.


Hannah Every-Hall - Rowing
Under Hannah’s guidance, Powerhouse Rowing Club has made significant leaps forward in terms of water success, off-water training, driving a new and younger membership and actively bridging the gap between school programs and clubs with a membership growth of 70% across the past two years. In her role as Director of Rowing, Hannah provides a fun and challenging environment catering for all ages, abilities and fitness levels while her contribution to building a culture of inclusiveness, trust, respect and team spirit has bound the club. An accomplished Olympian, Hannah has chosen to make a difference in the local community and is representative of the Powerhouse Rowing Club ethos, ‘service without seeking recognition’.
Yvonne Fantin - Tennis
Through her Topseed Tennis Academy at West Lalor Tennis Club, Yvonne has demonstrated the inclusiveness of her sport. 45 women attended a free two-day program as part of VicHealth’s ‘This Girl Can VIC’ initiative while she also stepped up her ‘Muslim Women & Girls’ and ‘Let’s ACE Autism’ programs in 2019 which provided culturally respectful, structured and safe environments. Yvonne’s passion, dedication and innovation saw her awarded the Coaching Excellence award at the Victorian Tennis Awards and named a finalist for Access & Inclusion Citizen of the Year at the 2019 Whittlesea Australia Day Awards.

Karen Garrard - Swimming
Karen has coached at Sunbury Swimming Club since the early 2000’s where she has created a multi-class program for swimmers of all ages and disabilities, structured to ensure there is flexibility at every level. The program has included 34 Paralympic athletes and Karen’s positive nature has seen several of her student swimmers become coaches themselves. In addition to Sunbury, Karen is involved at a district level for Metro West and has acted as Team Victoria Head Coach/Manager while she volunteers as the Multi-Class Representative on the Australian Swim Coaches & Teachers Association Victorian Branch Committee.

Dee Stark - Gymnastics
The Kindergym & Inclusion Coordinator at Werribee Gymnastics Club, Dee has set up partnerships with Special Olympics Australia to pilot their Young Athlete Program for children aged 2-8 with an intellectual disability, SNAPP to provide gymnastics for primary school children with Autism and Annecto to provide weekly gymnastics programs to adults with a disability. Another program called ‘Fitter for Life’, offered gymnastics to older adults free of charge and doubled its participation numbers in 2019. A coach who leads by example, Dee has shown great commitment to education and professional development and is the first ‘Inclusion Officer’ on Werribee Gymnastics Club’s committee.



This award recognises Victorian officials who have demonstrated excellence in their role as an official of their chosen sport during the 2019 year.


Sandy Gagnon - Curling
The only active female Australian umpire in Curling, Sandy also has the auspicious title of being the first Australian umpire at an international Curling competition. She has conducted training sessions for beginner umpires, self-funded a trip to Perth to attend a coaching development course and has applied those skills locally, coaches a Victorian woman's team and teaches Come ‘N’ Try Curling events in Melbourne.

Kim Ivett - Billards & Snooker
Throughout 2019, Kim officiated at state, national and international Billiards and Snooker championships while reaching the pinnacle of her 12-year career to date in October when she became the first female to referee a World Billiards final. Mentoring newly appointed referees and assisting those wanting to be upskilled, Kim has also initiated a coaching program via the Victorian Billiards & Snooker Association with Suzanne Cory High School in Werribee.

Susan Taylor - Badminton
Refereeing from club through to international level in 2019, Susan officiated at the Victorian Open, Australian Para-Badminton National Championships, World Junior Championships and the Australian Open to name a few. An assessor for National and Oceania Umpire accreditation and certifications, Susan also attends local tournament to mentor, train and assess new umpires who are gaining the experience required for their qualification.

Christine Wallis - Equestrian
Christine is an International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) accredited official. She has trained and supported stewards from grass roots to leadership roles throughout Australia and beyond via training and mentoring programs which included putting in place a training program framework that ensures an ongoing upskilling and accreditation structure. In 2019, she personally attended numerous state and community level events, was the Chief Steward at the Adelaide International Horse Trials (an Olympic qualifier) and officiated in the UK, Germany and Scotland. Her passion for the sport and tireless focus on support and professional progression of others has made Christine a role model amongst Equestrian officials.

This award recognises the exceptional contribution made by a Victorian official in 2019 with a particular focus on improving community sport through fairness, integrity and making sport more welcoming and inclusive.


Robert Graham - Motorsport
Fulfilling roles as Clerk of Course and scrutineering duties for Rover Scout Motorsport, Rob also trains, mentors and evaluates less experienced officials as an Event Assessor. Diligent and thoughtful in his assessments, Rob has devised a framework to assist officials to reach targets that will upgrade their skills. Rob was also a founding member of a team that created a Junior Development Program for the youth members of Scouts Victoria which is now the largest run affiliated club of its kind within Motorsport Australia, having 200 members aged between 12-17.

Meg Hopper - Netball
A Boroondara Netball Association (BNA) Umpire Coordinator for over ten years, Meg has developed a comprehensive umpire training program and is one of the youngest members of the Executive Committee. Encouraging and training young badged umpires to mentor new trainees and badge trainees, BNA now has two umpires officiating every court while Umpire Supervisors monitor and support officials when required. Meg also developed the inaugural BNA Umpire Development program which has been readily adopted by clubs and resolved issues surrounding umpire succession planning.

Tony Ruddick - Triathlon
A Regional Technical Official (Level 2) as well as a Senior and General Official at sanctioned events, Tony is known for his amiable, unflappable manner as well as his impressive grasp of Race Competition Rules. He remains calm when dealing with athletes and race day issues while contributing actively in post-race meetings in order to keep learning and knowledge sharing alive within the officiating program. Traveling extensively to regional races including World Qualifying events, Tony uses those opportunities to improve his skills, learn from others and bring new strategies back to Victoria to improve local officiating.

Sally Whitehouse - Swimming
Officiating at club, district, state and national level, Sally holds volunteer positions of Public Officer and Treasurer on the Ovens & Murray District Board while sitting on their selections and referee committees. Sally’s knowledge of the rules of swimming enables her to demonstrate fairness and integrity while she often organises regional development days that enable athletes to train with high-level coaches and participate in education workshops. Travelling from regional Victoria to Melbourne in order to mentor and assess officials, Sally’s commitment is evident in the hours and days she devotes to her sport as well as the countless kilometres of driving.

This award recognises Victorian teams who have achieved outstanding results in respect to their performances at a state, national, international, or elite level during the 2019 year. This award is open to men’s, women’s and mixed teams.


Senior State Table Tennis team - Table Tennis

At the 2019 National Senior Championships held in the LaTrobe Valley, the Victorian Senior State Table Tennis Team were unstoppable. The team, featuring five-time Olympian Jian Fang Ley, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Olympian Melissa Tapper as well as 2016 Olympians David Powell & Heming Hu, finished the tournament as aggregate Champions by claiming ten gold, seven silver and eight bronze medals from 14 events.

Victorian Fury - Netball

Competing in the Deakin University Australian Netball League (ANL), the Victorian Fury dominated another season of Australia’s second highest domestic competition. After finishing the regular season with a 13-1 record, the Fury swept their way through the finals to claim their eighth ANL crown. With no other team in the competition’s history owning more than one Championship, the Fury further cemented their place as the league’s most successful team.

Victorian Physical Disability State side - Bowls

Placing in all but two events at the Multi-Bowl nationals in Mackay last year, the Victorian Physical Disability State Side were named the Australian Champions. Four members of the team took home gold medals with Lucas Protopapas & Paul Kearney, Josh Barry & Barry Brennan, Shirley Ivanovic, Ross Higgins & Ben Robinson, Alison East and Wendy Odgers combining for an incredibly successful tournament.

Williamstown IRB Female Tube Rescue team - Life Saving

Dominating at all levels in 2019, the Williamstown IRB Female Tube Rescue team finished undefeated at state, national and international competitions. The Victorian team, consisting of members that have each completed the minimum 16 hours of patrol at their local clubs, began by winning the Victorian IRB Championships and finishing the season undefeated before claiming their fifth consecutive Australian IRB Championships and capping it off with a win at the ILS World IRB Championships.


This award recognises Victorian junior (male, female or mixed) teams who have achieved outstanding results with respect to their performances at a state, national, international or elite level during the 2019 year.


Archery Victoria Compound State team - Archery
With a team comprised of four female and six males aged between 12 and 20, this Archery Victoria team participated in the Compound Teams Competition at the National Youth Archery Championships. Across four days of competition, they took part in Field, Long Range Target, Short Range Target and Clout, edging out South Australia by 28 points to claim victory. Individually, the team won three gold medals, eight silver medals and eight bronze medals with 2019 marking the fifth consecutive year they have won the tournament.

Under-14 Victoria Boys Blue - Volleyball
2019 marked the inaugural inclusion of Under-14 teams at the Australian Junior Volleyball Championships, a national competition held at the AIS in Canberra. The week-long tournament saw states battle it out for supremacy and Victoria Blue swept their way to the Championship, not losing a single set in any of the Championship games while displaying a high level of respect as a team to all officials, coaches and competitors.

Victorian Equestrian Interschools Team - Equestrian
Maddy Theobald, Millie Ritchie, Abby Port, Jack Barker, Theodora Newman and captain Natasha Moody created history in 2019 by winning the Harry le Bherz Trophy at the Marcus Oldham Australian Interschool Championships. Not only was it the team’s second consecutive victory but it marked the first time an interstate team has won the Championships away from home soil. With cumulative points contested across five days of disciplines including show jumping, dressage, eventing, show horse and combined training, the team showed their consistency and versatility by scoring well in every discipline on their way to victory.

Victorian Junior Road Team - Road Cycling
Claiming a host of Championship wins and taking home a bevy of medals in 2019, the Victorian Junior Road Team had a very successful year. Together, Alyssa Polites, Jackson Hadden, Dan O’Malley, Belinda Bailey, Zac Kelly, Jamie Coles and Sophie Marr won two Champion of Champions tournaments, recorded four national Championship titles while winning five silver and four bronze medals and capped it all off as national Junior 15/17 Road Champions.



This award recognises a Victorian individual male athlete who has achieved outstanding results in respect to performance/s at a state, national, international, or elite level during the 2019 year.


Dylan Alcott - Tennis
Another incredible year for one of Australia’s greatest tennis players, Dylan won three Grand Slam quad wheelchair singles titles (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon) while also finishing as a finalist at the US Open. He claimed all four Grand Slam quad wheelchair doubles titles and finished 2019 as the number one ranked player in the quad wheelchair singles division.

Mitch Gourley - Para Alpine Skiing
Representing Australia at the 2019 World Championships in Slovenia and Italy, Mitch took home the bronze medal in the highly competitive category of standing men’s Slalom. At his sixth World Championships, Mitch also finished fourth in the men’s Giant Slalom (standing) before breaking his wrist in the Downhill which saw him unable to defend his 2017 World Championship Super-Combined title. Appointed to the inaugural AIS Athlete Advisory Committee, Mitch also served in his fifth year as International Athlete Representative to World Para-Alpine Skiing and organised and supported a development camp for emerging Para skiers with Disabled Wintersport Australia.

Scotty James - Snowboard Halfpipe
Following an Olympic bronze medal in 2018, Scotty took his performance to another level last year by winning every event he entered. Notching his third consecutive FIS World Championship and becoming the first person to achieve that feat, Scotty also claimed wins at The Dew Tour, X Games, US Grand Prix, Laax Open and the US Burton Open.

Matthew Temple - Swimming
2019 saw Matt make his first national team when he was selected to represent Australia at the World Swimming Championships in South Korea. After achieving a personal best time in the 100m butterfly at the Australian Swimming Trials, he made the 100m butterfly final in South Korea, placed in the top ten at the 200m butterfly and finished fifth in the 4x100m medley relay. Matt also won five gold medals while representing his local club Nunawading and was the joint winner of the Andrew Lauterstein Trophy for best butterfly athlete at the 2019 Swimming Victoria awards.



This award recognises Victorian individual female athletes who have achieved outstanding results in respect to performance/s at a state, national, international, or elite level during the 2019 year.


Jakara Anthony - Mogul Skiing
A standout season for Jakara saw her step onto the Moguls World Cup podium five times, claiming the gold medal on two occasions. Her persistence and hard work paid off by clinching a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships while also finishing third in the Ladies Moguls World Cup season standings.

Anna Lynch - Billiards
Anna claimed her 16th Victorian Billiards title in 2019 and continued her form at an Australian level with a national Billiards Championship. She reached the pinnacle though with a World Women’s Billiards Championship, becoming just the sixth Australian to win the title in an incredible year. A role model for rising Billiards players, Anna also assists in coaching and supporting the sports community throughout Victoria.

Lucy Stephan - Rowing
Hailing from Nhill in the northern Wimmera from a family of grain growers, Lucy is an unlikely rower but her determination and competitive nature led to another successful year in 2019. She represented the Melbourne University Boat Club at the Australian National Rowing Championships, was selected as captain of the Victorian State team and stroke of the Women's Eight in the Interstate Regatta at Sydney while also winning three gold medals for Australia including at the World Rowing Championships.

Liz Watson - Netball
As vice-captain of the Melbourne Vixens in the Suncorp Super Netball, Liz was named to the Nissan Net Points SSN Team of the Year for 2019 and finished third in the voting for the Sharelle McMahon Medal. In addition, Liz was also the Australian Diamonds vice-captain and helped them to win the 2019 Quad Series, the Constellation Cup and claim a silver medal at the Netball World Cup.



This award recognises Victorian junior athletes who have achieved outstanding results in respect to performance/s at a state, national, international, or elite level during the 2019 year.


Amy Lawton - Field Hockey
One of the rising stars in field hockey, Amy was selected to play for the Hockeyroos last year at the age of 17. She participated in the Oceania Olympic Qualifiers and during the qualification process against Russia, proving to be an integral part of the Hockeyroos midfield of which she is now a full-time member. At the same time as her national representation, Amy participated in the Under-21 national Championships for Victoria while completing her Year 12 Studies at Haileybury College. She capped 2019 by earning the AIS’ ‘Emerging Athlete’ award and was the VIS’ joint winner of the ‘Rising Star’ award.

Gabriella Peiniger - Swimming
Exceeding expectations and proving herself as one of the Australian athletes to watch for in 2019, Gabriella added to her trophy cabinet with a host of medals at Victorian and national Age Championships. Earning selection on to the 2020 Swimming Australia National Flippers program, Gabriella has already been chosen for the Australian Junior World team and is the highest performing able-body athlete at senior Australian Open Short Course Championships.

Cooper White - Tennis
A whirlwind start to the year saw Cooper claim the J4 doubles title in Christchurch, win two J4 doubles titles and reach the singles final in Jakarta, make the J4 doubles final in Brisbane and represent Australia in the Junior Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Final Qualifying tie all before August. He then went on to represent Australia in the Junior Davis Cup Finals in September and made the JB1 doubles final at Seopwipo, capping off his year by winning the Tennis Victoria Junior Male Athlete of the Year award.

Hayley Wilson - Street Skateboarding
Australia’s number one female street skateboarder for the fourth straight year, Hayley was selected to represent her country at the Olympic qualifiers ahead of the sport making its debut at the 2020 Olympics. She earned that spot by winning the Australian Skate Park Leagues and Australian Skateboarding Federation national Street Skateboarding Open’s, finishing second at the X-Games in Shanghai before claiming second place at the SLS Olympic Qualifier and fourth place at the Dew Tour Olympic qualifier. Hailing from country Victoria, Hayley was named Mansfield Shire Young Citizen and Sportsperson of the Year in 2019, finishing the year ranked sixth in the world.



This award recognises Victorian masters athletes (male or female) who have achieved outstanding results in respect to their performances at a state, national, international, or elite level during the 2019 year.


Patrick Galvin - Masters Swimming
At 86 years old and despite injuries to his hand and shoulder, Patrick was the outstanding Australian swimmer at the FINA World Masters Swimming Championships in South Korea. In the 85-89 age group, he placed first in all five individual events, breaking the World Championship record in the 50m butterfly by over two seconds and was a member of the record-breaking Malvern Marlins team in their two relay events. Patrick capped off the year by placing first in all seven of his events at the Australian Masters National Championships in Adelaide, creating two new national records.

Bradley Norton - Track Cycling
Returning home to the Shepparton Cycling Club, Brad brought with him three new World Championship titles and a bronze medal from the UCI Masters Track World Championships in Manchester. Claiming the rainbow bands in the 35-39 age group Individual Pursuit, the 35-39 Time Trial and the 35-44 4km Team Pursuit where the Australian team also broke the Masters record, Brad’s exploits saw him earn a nomination for the Australian Male Masters Athlete of the Year.

Mark Thompson - Masters Swimming
Excelling in national and international competitions throughout 2019, Mark cleaned up at the 2019 FINA Masters World Championships by winning the 100m, 200m and 800m freestyle in the 50-54 age group while also setting a new Australian record in the 800m. At the 2019 MSA National Championships, he won five freestyle titles and set another four Australian records before finishing off with five MSV Short Course Championships which included four Australian records.

Shirley Whitaker - Tennis
Skyrocketing to the number one world ranking in the 85+ age group this year, Shirley clinched the position after winning the European Senior Championships in Austria. She added that title to her trophy cabinet alongside victories in the singles and mixed doubles at the European Regional Championships and the Werzer Generali Cup singles while also finishing as a finalist in the World Individual Championships in Croatia.

This award recognises a volunteer of the Victorian sport and active recreation community who has made a positive difference to the opportunities and experiences available to others in 2019 and over a long period of time


Athena Babo - Football
The Club Secretary Volunteer for Pascoe Vale FC, Athena performs all secretarial work, corporate sponsorship, canteen duties, club grants processes and event and local community engagement- all at a high level. She also liaises with Football Victoria and council while being heavily involved in the club’s women and girls’ programs. Athena was a key driver in Pascoe Vale FC’s first Women in Business function and helped implement a Wellbeing Committee, an All-Abilities Program and a Youth Development Program. Most notably, Athena was instrumental in promoting the “Save Hakeem” campaign through local, state and federal government authorities.

Ron & Beryl Banbury - AFL & Netball
Volunteers at Catani Football & Netball Club for a combined 120 years, Ron (an impressive footballer) and Beryl (three-time Netball Premiership captain) began with the club as players. Since then, Ron has served as an umpire, Club Secretary for a record 21 years, treasurer, coach, selector, recruiter, time-keeper and caretaker of footballs while he still serves as a club committee member at the age of 81. The 'mother' of the club, Beryl has ensured Catani remains sustainable through fundraising, social functions, sewing numbers onto jumpers and preparing meals after training. Their collective dedication has seen the club survive through its lows and soar through its highs.

Ronda Jenkins - Athletics
A member of Brunswick Athletic Club for 51 years, Ronda currently acts as the club’s Registrar, Secretary and Treasurer. Tirelessly completing much of the administrative preparation for as many as 40 events every year across the Athletics Victoria calendar, Ronda also attends all meets to fulfill the Administration Manager’s duties. Her commitment and performance as Competition Secretary for almost every national championship over the last few decades is unmatched while Ronda’s intricate planning, attention to detail, interpersonal skills and patience in dealing with issues is universally admired.

Pauline Zealley - Netball
In the middle of a 25-year career, Pauline joined the Banyule & District Netball Association (BDNA) five years ago, bringing her experiences in coaching and creating leadership positions for women from the Rosanna Netball Club. Starting from scratch at BDNA, Pauline worked tirelessly to achieve the Strategic Plan that included securing additional court provisions and future plans for Banyule in the next 15 years, adding two outdoor covered courts and master planning for an additional four outdoor courts that will enable BDNA to competitively bid for future events. Pauline oversees the Running the Reps program and has also reconnected BDNA to Community Cup competition.



Victorian sports administrators who have demonstrated an outstanding level of achievement during the 2019 year at the State Sporting Association, Regional Sports Assembly or (Victorian based) National Sporting Organisation.


John Ballis - Reclink Australia
Reclink Australia CEO, John has increased the company’s capacity as a Victorian-based national charity to deliver sports and recreation programs to the most disadvantaged members of the community. He oversaw ActiVIC which offered 32 sport and recreation activities across ten locations with particularly strong engagement amongst South Sudanese, Somali and Pacifica communities. The Victorian Reclink AFL league grew to 18 teams, the first Love the Game carnival was hosted and the 25th Melbourne Reclink Community Cup had a record crowd of 14,000 raise funds for disadvantaged community members. John was also responsible for the expansion of the AAA Play referral service into a state-wide service.

Grant Cosgriff - Triathlon
A Change Our Game Champion, Grant delivered Triathlon Victoria’s Gender Equity report and launched the Women in Triathlon Action Plan to grow female participation in 2019. This led to a 6% increase in female participation, 21% growth in female leadership and a 44% bump in female accredited Foundation coaches for the sport. Through “TRI2gether”, Grant addressed youth participation by engaging 250 students in a previously unexplored market and as an advocate for organisational change, has brought an inclusive culture to Triathlon Victoria by providing placement and employment opportunities for people with intellectual disability.

Libby Mears - Leisure Networks
Leading Leisure Networks’ mission of Connecting People with their communities, Libby has focused on the areas of disability and sport. Identifying opportunities for growth through the NDIS and developing the Sport, Recreation, Health, Business and Innovation sectors has resulted in Leisure Networks positively impacting constituents beyond their funded work regardless of age, race, ability, gender, sexual orientation, culture or religion. Through her leadership, Leisure Networks has also assisted in increasing clubs’ capacity to develop Strategic Planning, Club Gender Equality audits and the exploration of ongoing funding and growth as they aim to grow inclusive cultures and safe and welcoming environments.

Andrew Skillern - Hockey
A visionary leader at Hockey Victoria, Andrew oversaw the launch of the organisation’s Gender Equity and Diversity Strategy in 2019. He was also a key driver in the establishment of the HockeyOne league and negotiated a broadcast deal with Kayo as well as creating social products, Hockey Sixers and Walking Hockey. These initiatives professionalised current programs, engaged new participants from outside the traditional market, advocated for increased representation of women and increased the profile of hockey as a sport in the state and on a national scale.


The Peter Norman Inclusion Award, recognises an individual or organisation that has made a significant contribution to safe, fair and inclusive sport in 2019.


Emma Staples - Cricket
A champion for inclusion and diversity at Cricket Victoria, Emma embodies the Harmony in Cricket ethos that celebrates cricket being a game for everyone. She has been involved in coordinating professional development opportunities for female-identifying staff and state cricket players, coordinating work experience placements with Victoria University’s disability program, managing research for LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport, celebrating the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cricket team to travel internationally and helped to organise a Cricket Victoria initiative that engaged young women in leadership opportunities. Emma personally volunteered at the 2019 National Inclusion Cricket and organised a group to participate in the Victorian Pride March.

Gymnastics Victoria - Gymnastics
Gymnastics Victoria (GV) has developed ongoing accessible programs like Aerobase Community (aerobics for adults attending disability services), Autism Gym (programming specifically for children with Autism) and Gym4Me (Gymnastics for disengaged/less active 12-17 year olds) which has helped lead to a 39% increase in participation of underrepresented population groups. Six students were provided work placement or casual employment at GV through Victoria University’s disability program while ten individuals with an intellectual disability successfully qualified as beginner level coaches. In addition, GV once again organised the Women in Sport Breakfast which attracted 20 sporting partners and 520 attendees as well as proudly delivering gymnastics to several community outreach events.

Naomi Symington & Janet Jones - Life Saving
A program which has now expanded throughout Victoria, Australia and internationally, Naomi Symington and Janet Jones’ Starfish Nippers began at Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club. Designed for children and young adults with a disability to participate alongside their parents, the program caters for all abilities while encouraging the learning of core lifesaving skills, promoting physical activity and achieving personals bests through sport. Run by volunteers, Naomi and Janet built the sustainable program by catering to participants’ varied needs and providing training and resources to ensure continued growth. The program has impacted the wider club community and advocates further education on disability and inclusion.

Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Ltd. (VACSAL) - AFL/Netball/Basketball
Running Aboriginal community sporting events for over ten years, VACSAL had a massive 2019 as they hosted state-wide Junior and Senior Football/Netball carnivals, a state-wide women’s Football carnival and the Bert Williams 3x3 Basketball competition. These events allow for Aboriginal participation in sport, encourage sporting participation as a right of all people and attract participants from across the state to engage in healthy activities while fostering community and cultural connections. VACSAL are strong advocates for supporting the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal communities by promoting healthy lifestyles, sugar-free drinks and snacks and non-smoking messages.



This award recognises a Local Government Authority who has made a significant contribution to sport in 2019 through the development of a participation program or facility.


2x2 Basketball Tournament - City of Port Phillip
Alongside local community organisations, the City of Port Phillip set up a 2x2 basketball tournament at the St. Kilda foreshore during the 2019 summer. Engaging culturally and linguistically diverse participants, the initiative enabled youths to play in an inclusive and safe environment while enjoying the outdoors and positively interacting with peers and onsite police. The council also benefited with increased quality of services, encouraging greater involvement from young people and the continual growth of a rapport within the community.

Casey Stadium - City of Casey
The redevelopment of Casey Stadium has seen it transformed into a world class multi-sport stadium with the safe and inclusive facility housing new gymnastics, indoor cricket, indoor soccer and wheelchair sports programs. Casey Netball Association secured the Casey Demons VNL licence and added 93 teams through the year, Casey Basketball Association added 100 teams, Casey Gymnastics attracted over 600 members, 150,000 spectators flocked to the Australian Sikh Games and the National Indoor Cricket Championships hosted over 80 teams including the Lord Taverners Shield for players with an intellectual disability. Total visitation numbers grew to over 1.1 million in 2019.

Creating Change Through Policy - Moreland City Council
In 2019, Moreland City Council enacted their Allocation of Sporting Grounds and Pavilions Policy which ensured clubs would only be provided a facility if they met the requirements of fielding junior and female teams as well as having female representation on their committee. Stimulating change, Moreland City Council worked in partnership with SSAs to meet with clubs and deliver education workshops in order to support and grow the sporting community. Female participation in sports clubs has increased from 8% to 23% and clubs are now more engaged with minority groups, evidenced by a new program set up in local Islamic schools.

The Sports Capacity Plan: Sports Fields - Mornington Peninsula Shire
Local sport and recreation is a way of life on the Mornington Peninsula and as the Shire’s population continues to grow, The Sports Capacity Plan: Sports Fields provides a framework to optimise the shared use of sports fields across the municipality. The Plan guides the maintenance, upgrade and renewal of existing field-based sporting facilities, informs the development of 37 new sports fields, develops an assessment tool to assist with prioritisation of projects and identifies sports field provision ratios. The Shire has also developed 'Our Game Plan' which provides the community with easy to understand information regarding the approach to development and upgrade of sporting facilities.



This award recognises the work of individuals, clubs, teams, groups or organisations (including SSAs) who have succeeded in enabling more people to participate in active recreation throughout 2019.


Bowling with Babies - Port Melbourne Bowling Club
A free health and well-being initiative, Bowling with Babies was introduced in response to a need to encourage women to get active and to reduce the barrier they face when participating in recreational activities. Within six weeks of its launch, the program doubled in size as it demonstrated how a low impact sport can be fun while allowing mothers to create new friendships and a supportive network. Positive outcomes were found in participants’ physical and mental well-being, social development, improved mood and a reduction in feelings of stress and isolation.

Gym4Me - Gymnastics Victoria
Gym4Me is a social, modified version of Gymnastics targeting less active 12-17-year-olds who have never engaged in the sport or have fallen away from previous engagement with the sport. Participants choose their own goals, ranging from stress-relief to skill-acquisition, and work with an experienced coach to achieve them while being empowered to take ownership over their experiences in physical activity. Out of 140 registrations in the program’s first ten months, 72% were former participants who returned to the sport, helping to rectify the early drop-out age in gymnastics.

Melbourne Tennis Month - Tennis Victoria
Introduced in February, Melbourne Tennis Month (MTM) was created to give tennis clubs an opportunity to leverage the excitement of the Australian Open by opening their doors to free participation. Activities includes Hot Shots tennis, Fast4, Court Hire, Cardio Tennis, Social Tennis, Women's tennis, multicultural tennis and seniors tennis with the 450 free events across the month featuring 3,660 participants, 1,700 of which were new to the sport Partnering with LGAs boosted participation numbers and strengthened the connection between them and the clubs for future events.

Social Football Wonthaggi - Bass Coast Breakers
A non-contact, small-sided event for girls and women aged between 13-50, this initiative saw 120 participants play AFL in 2019. The encouraging and supportive environment attracts a broad range of participants and caters for all skills and abilities while the games are played in the off-season without scores and with constant positional changes to aid in skill development. Young girls and women were able to hone their talents while others were introduced to the sport for the first time. Out of the program, 15 players were recruited to the senior team.



This award recognises the outstanding contribution made by a community sporting club, team or group in 2019 who have demonstrated a strong commitment to encourage and support participation in sport and active recreation, including breaking down barriers that may be created by age, cultural diversity, ability, gender, religious belief or sexual orientation.


Carrum Bowling Club - Bowls
After years of persistence to transform into a community engaged organisation, 2019 was a landmark year for the Carrum Bowling Club. Following targeted engagement, their school programs increased from 33 to 67 participants per week and their After Schools program saw a 100% increase with a 50% female membership. Six weeks of lawn bowls sessions were also provided to mentally challenged youths and students from the Southern Autistic School were engaged as well. A focus on female participation has seen women take up roles as Selector, Treasurer, Bowls Director and Social Director while unisex toilets, wheelchair access to all areas and a defibrillator were added to the facilities.

Corio Bay Rowing Club - Rowing
CBRC’s mission statement is to be a Rowing Community where people of all ages and abilities can participate, develop and excel. Their members are volunteer-focused and dedicated to coaching, coxing and developing training programs for the wider club community. Three Introduction to Rowing programs hosted in 2019 led to over half of the participants taking up a membership while the continued growth of the Masters Women’s Sweep Rowing Squad saw them win a medal in every entered event at the Australian Masters Championships. Achieving a balance between competitiveness and inclusiveness, CBRC strives for success but never forgets the need to develop and nurture.

Kyvalley Tennis Club - Tennis
Within a community of 329 permanent residents, Kyvalley Tennis Club provides a safe and welcoming environment for locals struggling with drought and economic conditions. Despite the small population, an incredible 304 participants are registered to Kyvalley and through the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots program, 70 children aged 3-12, including those with special, needs participate each year. Junior players aged 8-16 have the opportunity to play in the Kyabram & District Tennis Association, professional coaches offer further opportunities to develop their skills while a Female Participation Program focuses on inclusion.

Ocean Grove SLSC - Life Saving
Consistently demonstrating a welcoming, safe and inclusive environment in 2019, OGSLSC introduced a Member Wellbeing and Leadership Development Officer, a Youth Leadership and Development (YL&D) Officer and YL&D strategy, a modified Nippers program catering for all abilities/needs and a revised Code of Conduct with a strong focus on safeguarding children. OGSLSC’s competition team has grown to record numbers, featuring 350 Nippers participants of which 182 are involved in Life Saving competition. 2019 also saw them named Champion Club at the Junior and Youth/Senior Life Saving Championships.



This award recognises an outstanding community sporting event that has been delivered successfully and benefited the local community in 2019.


Festival of Sport- Kardinia Park Stadium Trust
Coordinating the participation of 92 sport and recreation organisations, Kardinia Park Stadium Trust held the biggest multi-sport Festival of its kind to launch GMHBA Stadium and the surrounding Kardinia Park Precinct. The Festival offered over 60 different sporting activities, a day of stage entertainment, multi-cultural food and dance, exercise sessions and events including the Geelong Kids Triathlon, a skate competition and a medieval arena for the more than 14,000 patrons. In addition, the Festival featured inclusive areas such as a Youth Hangout Zone, an Active Ageing Zone, a multi-cultural Zone, a Healthy Living Zone and a Sensory Zone for people with sensory needs.

Waverley Toyota Good for Footy Event- Mazenod Panthers All-Abilities Football Team
In May 2019, an AFL exhibition game was played in front of 500 people. This event enables access for people with disability to the sport of AFL, creating an All-Abilities experience and helping each participant reach their full potential. The night also helps the Mazenod Panthers raise funds and work with local community partners including career support organisations. Active Monash provided participants with advice on exercise programs while St. Kilda Saints star Luke Dunstan stepped in as guest coach of the Panthers for the game.

Tennis Victoria Country Week- Tennis Victoria
Held in Shepparton last February, the Tennis Victoria Country Week featured 1,237 players and 192 teams with 96 grass courts utilised over five days. Tennis Victoria introduced a health and charitable element to the tournament by partnering with the EJ Whitten Foundation to provide blood pressure checks, Beyond Blue to spread awareness of mental health and Fight MND to raise funds. Many teams consisted of generations of family members with participants from regional Victoria taking the opportunity to catch up with friends in the tennis community. Tennis participation across Country Victoria has since increased by 2,947 participants and millions of dollars were contributed to the local town’s economy.

32nd Australian Sikh Games- Victorian Sikh Games Organising Committee & the City of Casey
Delivering a welcoming, safe and inclusive event, the Sikh Games involved 14 sports open to all skills and backgrounds. Across three days, over 100,000 people attended with 140,000 free meals provided by local Sikh Temple communities while traffic and crowd management, sporting protocols, food and beverage procedures as well as integrated event partners and supporters were pre-planned to ensure a seamless event. The impact of the Sikh Games on local community sporting participation was immediately seen with Casey Council approached to hold new sporting events including a Kabaddi Tournament and a Multicultural Athletics Day which will be an on-going legacy of the Sikh Games.


This inagural award recognises the coverage of elite and community sport to the wider public via various online, digital, broadcast and/or print media platforms in 2019.


Chicks Talking Footy - AFL
With male voices dominating media in the mainstream and LGBTQ+ community, Chicks Talking Footy paved the way for women to become more active in the media and report on sport within the community. Airing weekly on Joy 949, the all-female team gave voice to transgender players and supporters during a critical juncture in the history of AFLW/AFL while also helping to develop LGBTQ+ inclusion policies at AFL clubs and stadiums around Australia. The Chicks Talking Footy team have produced the live broadcasts at the 2014 Yarra Glen Pride Cup, 2015 (NAB) Pride Game, the 2016, 2017 and 2018 AFL Pride Games and 2018, 2019 and 2020 AFLW Pride Games.

Lachlan Rayner - Little Athletics
Communications and Marketing Coordinator for Little Athletics Victoria, Lachlan Rayner directed live-streaming operations across three State Championship events. Providing expert commentary, professional-level production qualities, high definition images, athlete interviews and roaming camera footage, the live-streams now live in perpetuity online for participants, families and friends to watch. They also serve as a continual advertisement of the Little Athletics experience, demonstrating its long-standing values of Family, Fun & Fitness and recording the increasing cultural diversity of Little Athletics.

Football Victoria - Football
The showpiece event of the Victorian football calendar, Football Victoria produced and broadcast the 2019 Grand Final triple-header live to YouTube and Facebook. Across a nine hour broadcast, 100,000 people tuned in with an engagement rate of almost 90%. Fox Sports commentator Michael Zappone hosted alongside former Socceroos Sasa Ognenovski and Goran Lozanovski as well as former Matildas and Fox Sports presenters Melissa Barbieri and Kate Gill. They were able to show the personal side of the competition through a touching interview with NPLW Grand Final Player of the Match, Aleksandra Sinclair, whose father had passed only two days prior to the game.

Andrew Weiss - all sports
The Managing Director at My Sport Live, Andrew is responsible for a live-stream organisation that provides clubs, members and leagues the ability to showcase their sport to a wider network of existing and new participants. With high-quality equipment and trained professionals, Andrew and My Sport Live covered dozens of sports in 2019 includung football, netball, arm-wrestling and show jumping as well as all abilities and age levels such as wheelchair sports, blind sports and junior sports. Their coverage and ability to shine the spotlight on their clients has notably increased general interest, awareness and community participation.


The Victorian Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award is presented to an individual or organisation in recognition of outstanding achievement in, or contribution to, sport in Victoria. Winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award are nominated by the Vicsport Board and selected by a panel of industry representatives who are chosen based on their significant role in the Victorian sport and active recreation sector.

Click here to view previous winners of the Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award

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