2020 Victorian Sport Award Finalists

Congratulations to the below individuals, organisations, clubs and Local Government Authorities for progressing through to the finalist stage of the 2020 Victorian Sport Awards.


This award recognises a Local Government Authority who has made a significant contribution to sport in 2020 through the development of a participation program or facility.


Get Active! At Home Series - Maribyrnong City Council

Created to encourage and support their community to stay active with local deliverers during lockdown periods, Maribyrnong City Council’s free Get Active! At Home Series (GAHS) saw over 1,250 registered participants engage with 20 local providers across 25 different six-week programs. These initiatives included Taekwondo Fitness, Kids Beginner Gymnastics and Adult Jazz Dance with some programs continuing beyond the initial six weeks due to popularity. Overall, 84% of participants stated they were more physically active due to engaging in the GAHS, 75% reported they felt healthier and over 100 participants subsequently registered with a local sports club or leisure centre.
#CaseyGirlsCan Program - City of Casey

#CaseyGirlsCan is an ongoing campaign by the City of Casey to encourage women and girls to get involved in sport and physical activity, address barriers to their participation and support the This Girl Can Vic campaign. Utilising Vicsport’s Innovation Lab, Casey Council embarked on a project to empower CALD women to take up leadership roles in locally led, culturally appropriate physical activities for other CALD women, while partnering with a number of organisations to provide online physical activity programs that reached more than 12,000 women. A range of activities are available for free via #CaseyGirlsCan on YouTube and new approaches used in 2020 will now be permanent features of the campaign.

Mental Health in Sports Clubs Program - Cardinia Shire Council

Following a survey within Cardinia Shire that identified the need to understand and support mental health challenges, the Mental Health in Sports Clubs program was established. Volunteers from 15 clubs were upskilled through an accredited Mental Health First Aid Course, Monash Health and Headspace were engaged to ensure clubs had avenues for support and ongoing game plans while Co-design approaches were utilised to address club issues, policies and procedures. The success of this program has seen it be replicated and delivered throughout the broader Cardinia community.
Sport and Physical Activity Strategy - City of Casey

After engaging with 339 individuals across multiple providers, strategic partners, community groups and individual residents, City of Casey committed to 37 strategic initiatives aimed primarily at getting less-active residents more engaged through their Sport and Physical Activity Strategy. Targeted conversations with CALD and other underrepresented groups provided useful insights to the specific barriers women and girls face and a new physical activity program was developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls, co-designed with Casey’s Aboriginal Gathering Place. The Strategy will guide Council’s decision making for the next four years, ensuring a positive impact on the health and well-being of its residents.


Victorian sports administrators who have demonstrated an outstanding level of achievement during 2020 at the State Sporting Association, Regional Sports Assembly or National Sporting Organisation (Victorian based) level. The recipient’s contribution will have provided benefit to, or had a positive impact upon, an individual sport or the industry as a whole, and their standards of excellence will have distinguished them from peers.


Sarah Loh - South Metro Junior Football League

CEO Sarah Loh bucked the trend of COVID-19 to ensure the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) remained financially viable, retained all staff and supported its 25 clubs financially and socially during 2020. Setting up the SMJFL Community Fund, Sarah covered registrations and insurance fees for participants while also investing in mentoring and mental health programs for kids and volunteers. The modified “Football-4-Fun” program assisted kids to play football after lockdown in a COVID-safe environment with 2,500 players aged 7-18 participating in 460+ games for free over four weeks. The SMJFL was the only football league to not charge a single fee in 2020 and was able cover the insurance for over 11,000 players and its member clubs.

Steven Gatt - Netball Victoria

Initially joining Netball Victoria in 2015 to improve the organisation’s systems and procedures, Steve has since become a critical member of the team and now serves as Chief Operating Officer. A barometer for staff at all levels, Steve carefully guided Netball Victoria’s finances to enable the organisation to retain all staff while improving revenue across merchandise, ticketing and membership which added to the bottom line and enabled greater investment into affiliates and grassroots netball. On Vixens’ game days, Steve can be seen entertaining VIP’s, ushering patrons to their seats as well as setting up and packing down sponsor activations.
Lisa Hasker - Vicsport

As the CEO of Vicsport, Lisa displayed outstanding leadership to navigate all Victorian sports through imposed restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. During weekly Zoom meetings, Lisa helped interpret the rules as they related to the sports industry while also updating and advising on constant changes throughout the year. Beyond those meetings, Lisa provided one-on-one guidance, personally attended to specific enquiries from sports, analysed Return To Play plans, co-hosted COVID-19 information webinars and liaised with government on behalf of sports to provide an approachable, knowledgeable and reassuring presence during an uncertain time.
Ayden Shaw - Disability Sport & Recreation

As Sport and Recreation Manager at Disability Sport & Recreation (DSR), Ayden was instrumental in designing, developing and implementing a number of innovative projects during a challenging year. Driving an agenda of change to create better access to community activity for Victorians that live with disability, Ayden promoted Wheelchair Rugby Victoria and a strategic plan to grow the sport in this state, set up a partnership with Proud 2 Play to broaden the experiences of Victorians with disability who identify as LGBTQI+ and created ‘DSR Kids Online Active’, transitioning the DSR Kids Hospital program online for any child with disability in Victoria.


This award recognises the coverage of elite and community sport to the wider public via various online, digital, broadcast and/or print media platforms in 2020.


Liam Murphy - Calisthenics Victoria

Needing to be creative, innovative and courageous to maintain connection with existing members and build new audiences during COVID-19, Calisthenics Victoria created “This Is Calisthenics”, a two-part reality TV show that saw the sport, for the first time ever, brought to a national audience. The program shared four stories celebrating the diversity of the calisthenics community, showcased the athleticism and artistry of the sport as well as the strength and courage of the calisthenics community. Reaching an audience of 100,000 across TV and streaming with another 600,000 people reached on social media, “This Is Calisthenics” positively impacted the sport’s community during a dark time.

Sean Whipp and Tim Crosbie - Athletics Victoria

In response to the events of 2020, Sean and Tim pivoted the content of their ‘Down the Track’ podcast to focus on community engagement with interviews from club committee champions, regional athletes and local coaches while also engaging experts in the field of gender equity, nutrition and para-sports. These human-interest stories offered new perspectives on what the sport of athletics means to people as well as expanding the podcast’s reach beyond the athletic community. With more than 17,000 downloads in 2020, ‘Down the Track’ showcased athletics as a welcoming and safe environment suitable for all individuals.

Puma - Melbourne Vixens/Netball Victoria

Following a description of netball as a ‘glamour’ sport in The Age, Melbourne Vixens’ partner Puma created the 'Witness Fearless' social media phenomenon. Showcasing the sport in a fierce, positive way, fighting back against those that belittle netball and engaging a new audience at the same time, the campaign caught fire. Online correspondence flooded in with messages of gratitude and support, the likes of the Shameless Podcast, radio hosts and clubs throughout the AFL, AFLW, NBL and NRL joined the rallying cry and the term ‘fearless’ will now underpin the overall ethos at Netball Victoria and the Vixens.

Raff Agostino - School Sport Victoria

Running the Communications and Marketing for School Sport Victoria (SSV), Raff managed the “Ask SSV Show” in 2020. Spanning 32 weeks, the hour-long shows saw athletes interviewed with students granted the opportunity to ask questions live and directly to their sporting heroes. 221 schools and 277 students participated, thousands more tuned in to watch the show and listen to the podcast while a focus on inclusion allowed students with a disability to take part as well. During the pandemic, Raff also built an online system where students could submit media of their athletic performances with Olympians and elite athletes contacted to promote engagement.


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 2020 and over a long period of time.


Marg Jones - Pakenham Lions Netball Club

As President, Marg was a driving force behind maintaining positive wellbeing amongst the athletes and support staff of the Pakenham Lions Netball Club during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with a supportive league, AFL Outer East and Netball Victoria, together with her dedicated committee members and coaches, players were empowered to stay connected with Marg's priority being their mental health. Balancing full-time work and caring for her family, Marg personally contacted every player, coach, committee member and sponsor of the 25 teams within the Football Netball Club and local indoor competition to check on their wellbeing while also posting daily updates on Facebook, checking in via emails and providing informational webinars. Not missing anyone’s birthday during this time, Marg also organised weekly Zoom sessions focusing on strength and conditioning, yoga, team chats and committee meetings.

Richard Lawysz - Athletics Victoria

A National Technical Official for 40 years, Richard serves on committees from grassroots to national level. President of the Geelong Athletics Regional Centre from 1998-2017 and 2018-present where he works as an official and coach as well, Richard also serves Athletics Victoria as a member of the Victorian Officials Committee and represents Geelong on the Athletics Victoria Shield League subcommittee. During COVID-19, Richard ensured the Officials Committee stayed connected, facilitated virtual seminars and was a co-presenter of a world-first officials education initiative set up online. Excelling in all aspect of the sport, Richard is a highly valued educator within the athletics community.

Heather Webb - Waverley Softball Association

In 2020, Waverley Softball Association hosted the Under-16 national Championships, bringing national softball back to Victoria for the first time in a decade. As President, Heather was a key organiser in the event which included four months of regular meetings with key organisations, managing volunteers, ground works, catering, preparing facilities and ultimately convening the seven-day event by working 12-hour days. Heather worked full-time while completing this project and carried out all other Presidential duties at the same time. Her leadership was rewarded by Waverley being named host for the upcoming Under-23 men’s national Championships as well as the Under-16’s tournament for another three years.

Joseph Joyce - Rowing Victoria

President of Rowing Victoria (RV) since 2017, Joseph took on the additional role of interim CEO for ten months in 2020. Navigating the COVID-19 lockdowns, Joseph worked over 40 hours a week but alongside his voluntary Presidential role, Joseph forwent remuneration as interim CEO as well. He used the lockdown to empower staff by encouraging them to implement new initiatives such as indoor rowing competitions, worked with elite clubs to support aspiring rowers, strengthened relationships with stakeholders to better serve the rowing community post-lockdown, exceeded budget expectations by managing financials and worked tirelessly to get rowers back on the water as soon as possible.


The Peter Norman Inclusion Award recognises an individual or organisation that has made a significant contribution to safe, fair and inclusive sport in 2020.


Elizabeth Gosper - Inclusive Sports Training

Elizabeth is the head coach of Inclusive Sports Training, an Australian-first triathlon club for people with an intellectual disability. Starting in 2013 with 33 competitors, a partnership with Triathlon Victoria saw the program expand and she now coaches 90+ athletes over 20 hours a week while included pivoting her sessions online during COVID-19. Athletes are encouraged to be competitive but not at the expense of good sportsmanship while Elizabeth promotes mentoring opportunities with elite athletes to build work experience and future employment prospects. Her partnership with Triathlon Victoria culminated with the intellectual impairment category being added to the 2020 Australian Triathlon National Championships.

Life Saving Victoria

Through a stand-alone department dedicated to the needs of the CALD community, Life Saving Victoria (LSV) partnered with 170 CALD organisations, schools and clubs to provide 22,000 CALD community members with a targeted ‘welcome’ and the first steps towards safe and enjoyable involvement in aquatic sport and recreation. 440 separate activities and courses were delivered with 1,150 participants learning to swim while 53 CALD youths subsequently joined clubs or found employment within the aquatic and recreation industry. LSV has since shared the successful education model with the aquatics industry as well as other SSAs, local councils and lifesaving clubs.

Stella Lesic - Queer Sporting Alliance

During 2020, Stella led the Queer Sporting Alliance (orginially known as Bushrangers Sporting Alliance) to become the largest LGBTIQ+ community not-for-profit sports club in Australia. Their Come Out & Play (basketball) and Come Out & Roll (roller skating) programs reengage the LGBTIQ+ community that has become disillusioned with sport while their governance framework has seen them work closely with NSOs and SSAs to help improve their inclusion practices. Removing gendered competition and welcoming gender diverse folk in their Carlton Baths competitions is a national first for mainstream basketball while COVID-19 did not halt BSA’s progress as they signed a number of new teams and held weekly online training sessions.

Yvonne Snell and Sarah Wheadon - Special Olympics Australia

The peak body for developing and delivering inclusive sport and physical activity for people with intellectual disability, Special Olympics Australia held a six-part webinar series in 2020 titled Autism Inclusion in Sport, Recreation and Physical Education. Presenters included people with lived experience of autism, teachers who support young people with autism, researchers and inclusive sports program providers. Learning about the exclusion that people with autism face and how to counter it, 2,129 participants were reached including organisations not wholly connected to sport who gained an understanding of how important inclusion and education is to the sporting sector.


This award recognises the work of individuals, clubs, teams, groups or organisations (including SSAs) who have succeeded in enabling more people to participate in sport activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new award for 2020 highlights the innovative work that sport has promoted to keep people active and connect with members.


North West Travel League - Softball

With uncertainty surrounding the softball season due to COVID-19, three associations (Northern District, Sunshine and Keilor Park) formed a partnership to develop the North West Travel League. This agreement, that included modified rules to avoid contact as well as shared grounds, players, officials, equipment and resources, ensured members would have a ready competition to play in as soon as lockdown ended. In addition, all three associations halted a decline in memberships and reduced the financial impact by hosting multiple rounds which generated revenue through food and drink sales.

The Inaugural Omnium Regatta - Rowing Victoria

With no multi-lane racing allowed during COVID-19, Rowing Victoria (RV) developed a one-way 7km course around Lake Wendouree. Divided into sections of differing distances, crews could participate and/or compete against others that matched their fitness and skill levels, using the Strava app to track their times. The inaugural Omnium Regatta was held just after the conclusion of lockdown with 400 athletes and ten officials taking part while media promotion attracted a local Ballarat crowd. The successful event can be partly credited for a subsequent 15% increase in athlete numbers and race entries while future Omniums will now form part of the RV calendar.

MapLink (DIY Orienteering) - Orienteering Victoria

At the commencement of lockdown, Debbie Dodd put out a call to the Orienteering Victoria community who produced a total of 138 new courses accessible in urban areas under a DIY initiative called MapLink. Available via MapRun (an app that allows users to upload, save and share their completed courses for virtual competitions), Facebook and Google Docs were also utilised to track a virtual scoring system. Between April and September 2020, 2,140 participants were recorded completing a course and the online activity enabled Debbie to ensure enthusiasm, fitness and entertainment levels remained high through lockdown while the use of technology has opened new avenues for the orienteering community.

Club Race Series - Triathlon Victoria

Spanning the last five months of 2020, Triathlon Victoria (TV) collaborated with clubs to develop the Club Race Series. Utilising Zwift, a multiplayer online cycling and running program, clubs went head-to-head in virtual races with a grading system allowing all abilities to compete on an even playing field. Becoming the 48th largest team on Zwift out of nearly 10,000 teams worldwide, 70% of affiliated clubs competed in the series and women represented 35% of competitors. Following the series, TV’s membership grew 20% and the series’ success will see it return as a winter option in 2021.


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 during 2020 through a single initiative, event or long-term initiative.


'The Cage' - McKinnon Basketball Association

With no ‘facility to call home’, McKinnon Basketball Association has always been at a disadvantage but COVID-19 provided a chance to re-focus and turn a negative into a positive by creating ‘The Cage’. Temporary outdoor basketball courts housed a 3x3 tournament that featured 65 teams and over 1,000 competitors across four weekends while weekly trainings, the Aussie Hoops junior program and an All-Abilities program were also held. Offering flexibility, cost effectiveness and a way to engage all members, ‘The Cage’ provided a carnival atmosphere that not only saw players return to training and playing in a COVID-safe environment but also reconnected the basketball community after seven months apart.

Club Race Series - Triathlon Victoria

Spanning the last five months of 2020, Triathlon Victoria (TV) collaborated with clubs to develop the Club Race Series. Utilising Zwift, a multiplayer online cycling and running program, clubs went head-to-head in virtual races with a grading system allowing all abilities to compete on an even playing field. Becoming the 48th largest team on Zwift out of nearly 10,000 teams worldwide, 70% of affiliated clubs competed in the series and women represented 35% of competitors. Following the series, TV’s membership grew 20% and the series’ success will see it return as a winter option in 2021.

FitSkills - LaTrobe University

FitSkills is a 12-week community-based program addressing the lack of social support and inclusive programs for people with disability aged 13-30. In collaboration with City of Boroondara, Sport and Recreation Victoria, Disability Sport and Recreation, Down Syndrome Victoria, Cerebral Palsy Support Network, Joanne Tubb Foundation and YMCA Victoria, participation was facilitated at 20 community gyms where a young person with disability was matched with a student mentor from the same locality to exercise together. Adaptations to the program enabled 27 young people with more complex disability to also take part. Participants said the program built a sense of belonging in their community, made them feel confident and capable after the sessions and these feelings extended to their home and work activities while also providing the impetus to continue exercising beyond the program.

I Speak Football - City in the Community

I Speak Football is an innovative community football program run in Victorian schools and community settings aimed at engaging young CALD people aged 7-19. Activities, tournaments and holiday programs are held while participants (a majority of which have experienced barriers to traditional sport and recreation) can access education and employment mentoring and training. Across the program’s two years, over 20 young leaders have gone on to run community football programs across Melbourne as casual staff or volunteers. Independent evaluations of 500 participants (40% of which are women) have proven the program has positively impacted participants’ self-confidence and sense of belonging.


The Victorian State Government 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.

This year's recipient is Malcolm Speed AO.

Malcolm has had a long and distinguished career as lawyer, sports administrator and company director and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2012 for his tireless work in shaping cricket and basketball as well as his invaluable involvement in various sports including cycling, golf and Australian rules football.

Speed was executive Chairman of Basketball Australia and CEO of the NBL from 1980 to 1997, a period in which the sport emerged as a major force on the court while gaining a national audience and unheralded commercial support off it.

He was then recruited to the CEO role of the Australian Cricket Board from 1997 to 2001 before transitioning into the role of CEO for the International Cricket Council. Speed held that position from 2001 to 2008, during a tumultuous phase of dramatic growth on the sub-continent, a rise in gambling on cricket and allegations of match fixing. In this environment, Speed’s legal training and his reputation for independence and integrity were undoubted assets.

Among his other many achievements are:

  • Chairman of Cycling Australia
  • Director of the Victorian Major Events Company
  • Director of Golf Australia
  • Director of Sports Environmental Alliance
  • Director of Richmond Football Club
  • Executive Director of the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) which looks after AFL, Australian Rugby Union, Cricket Australia, FFA, National Rugby League, Netball Australia and Tennis Australia
  • Lifetime member of ANSZLA and awarded the ANSZLA’s Outstanding Service to Sport Award

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