2021 Victorian Sport Award Winners
Congratulations to the below individuals, organisations, clubs and Local Government Authorities for being awarded winners of the 2021 Victorian Sport Awards!
This award recognises Victorian coaches who have achieved outstanding coaching performance/s with Victorian athlete/s or teams during the 2021 year.
Alois Rosario - Table Tennis
After representing Australia as a player from 1986-1991 and working for Table Tennis Victoria for 18 years, Alois joined the Para Coaching team in 2011. Now the national Para Coach for Table Tennis Australia, Alois spearheaded the country’s Tokyo Paralympics campaign which brought home the highest number of medals ever for a campaign (two golds and four silvers) while one of his athletes, Qian Yang, was named the 2021 Australian Para Player of the Year. Playing a major role in state and national coaching courses, Alois’ training tutorials are made available via the Ping Skills website and he devotes time to establishing better Para programs across Victoria.
This award recognises Victorian sporting officials (umpires/referees/judges) who have made a significant contribution to their club, and/or association/district in 2021, with a particular focus on improving community sport through fairness, integrity and ensuring sport is more welcoming and inclusive.
Gary Lasky - Lawn Bowls
While 2021 was hampered by COVID-19 interruptions Gary’s output was hardly hindered as he trained over 50 new coaches through the AIS/Bowls Victoria club coach program, taught lawn bowls to more than 100 grade 5 students through Bowls Australia’s Rookie Rollers primary school program and assisted many of the 46 clubs within the Sandbelt Bowls Region with match preparation and technical training. To overcome lockdown isolation, Gary developed Zoom seminars and PowerPoint presentations for over 100 clubs that featured coaches sharing practical knowledge and insights. Gary treats everyone equally, establishing welcoming committees to assist new members and a code of conduct to alleviate poor behaviour.
This award recognises Victorian officials who have demonstrated excellence in their role as an official of their chosen sport during the 2021 year.
Sarah Davis - Athletics
Making up for lost time in 2021, Sarah officiated at a number of Athletics Victoria events, grassroots events, several Victorian state championships, the Victorian Country Championships in Ballarat, Victorian Combined Events in Bendigo and an eight-day championships interstate. Sarah mentors a large group of officials and most of her sessions had to be conducted online as she answered questions, reviewed technical aspects of field events, encouraged professional development activities and kept an eye on their wellbeing. Sarah was also involved in video productions for officials that outline how to officiate at different events and the necessary items that officials should always carry with them.
This award recognises Victorian sporting officials (umpires/referees/judges) who have made a significant contribution to their club, and/or association/district in 2021 with a particular focus on improving community sport through fairness, integrity and making sport more welcoming and inclusive.
Anita Hill - Netball
Dedicating countless hours towards umpire training and development for the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League (MPNFL), Anita has worked with and supported MPNFL clubs to create a framework and provide direction for the umpiring pathway. With the Nepean Netball Association suffering from a lack of umpires returning after COVID-19 interruptions, Anita helped find officials and mentor them, sought grant assistance and even attended games herself. A new MPNFL Umpire Coordinator has been supported by Anita and she has helped set up an umpire clinic with her care and commitment to grassroots sport providing exactly what the community needed.
This award recognises a Victorian junior team who has achieved outstanding results with respect to their performances at a national, international level during the 2021 year.
Indoor Youth State Team - Archery Victoria
In the midst of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Victorian State Youth team for the Australian Indoor Championships performed at an exceptional level as both the Recurve and Compound division teams won gold medals in the state event. With very little chance to compete in practice events and no ability to train together prior to the event, some members of the eight-person team had never even met in person but they came together in trying circumstances to pull off an impressive performance.
This award recognises a Victorian team who has achieved outstanding results in respect to their performances at a state, national and/or international level during the 2021 year.
Melbourne City FC - Football
The A-League's standout team in 2021, Melbourne City FC finished the regular season on top of the ladder to claim the Premiers Plate before going on to win the Championship with a 3-1 victory over Sydney FC in front of 15,000 fans at AAMI Park. The win also qualified them for the Asian Champions League and all three accomplishments for the season were firsts in City’s club history. Melbourne-born head coach Patrick Kisnorbo navigated challenge after challenge in his debut season at the helm, including missing key players for the finals.
This award recognises an outstanding community sporting event that has been delivered successfully and benefitted the local community in 2021.
Barwon Respect Cup - Barwon Health/Netball Victoria
The Barwon Respect Cup is an annual event involving 100 primary school students in a round robin netball tournament that promotes respect and positivity while aiming to improve student’s abilities to recognise and respond to gender stereotypes. Students take part in workshops presented by local community service providers who use their professional knowledge of diversity, inclusion and healthy relationships to engage the participants on exploring issues of gender equity and the impact of behaviours in preventing violence against women. The Cup is then concluded on court with netball games that promote active and healthy lifestyles.
This award recognises the outstanding contribution made in 2021 by a community sporting club, team or organisation who has 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.
Footscray Hockey Club - Hockey
Through Victoria University’s Change Makers program and working with Sport and Life Training, Footscray Hockey Club (FHC) have dedicated themselves to become more culturally diverse, safe and welcoming. Their new action plan saw membership increase by 300% in 2021 and close to 2,500 students participated in their Hook into Hockey program and Come and Try events attracted 80 new children into grassroots level play. FHC has also established a youth advisory committee to advise on youth issues at the club and instituted a gender equity policy which led to 50% of members being women and girls and 40% of their board and coaches being female.
This award recognises Victorian sports administrators who have demonstrated an outstanding level of achievement during the 2021 calendar year at the SSA, RSA or NSO (Victorian based) level. The recipient’s contribution has provided benefit to, or had a positive impact upon, an individual sport or the industry as a whole, and their standards of excellence has distinguished them from peers.
Ayden Shaw - Disability Sport & Recreation
Continuing to drive an agenda for change as Manager - Programs and Events at Disability Sport & Recreation (DSR), Ayden achieved outstanding results in 2021. He oversaw successful funding applications for Together More Active, local community grants and major sponsorship for the City of Melbourne Event Partnerships program while renewing existing partnerships and securing new deals with organisations like AFL Victoria and Reclink Australia respectively. He managed relationships to enable Victorian athletes to travel to Queensland for the Wheelchair Rugby Nationals as well as the Tokyo Olympics and also played a pivotal role in delivering the DSR Festival and DSR Awards.
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 while also highlighting the innovative work that sport has promoted to keep people active and connected with members.
Softball Batter Up School Roadshow - Softball Victoria
The 'Softball Batter Up School Roadshow' delivered free introduction clinics in local schools throughout Victoria, targeting Grade 3's and Grade 4's. Compiling a target list in the catchment areas of their 13 affiliated associations, 4,000 students from 112 schools registered and modified equipment such as foam balls and bats were utilised to ensure there was a focus on inclusiveness and fun. Students then received flyers for local clubs and low-cost programs were suggested with 54% of participants registering for Softball Batter Up and Fully Loaded T-Ball programs while the Roadshow also led to the development of strong relationships between Softball Victoria and local schools.
This award recognises a Local Government Authority who has made a significant contribution to sport in 2021 through the development of a participation program or facility.
Club Development Workshop Series - Nillumbik Shire Council
Directly informed by a 2020 survey, Nillumbik Shire Council’s inaugural Club Development Workshop Series in 2021 saw educational classes provided to support grassroots, volunteer-run sporting clubs as they experienced and recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with Vicsport, Aligned Leisure, Richmond Football Club and Leisure Networks, seven workshops were delivered monthly to 70+ clubs and 120 registrants covering topics such as child safety, marketing, inclusion, governance and financial and strategic planning. Helping to maintain and foster connection with volunteers, Nillumbik’s community sporting clubs also came out of the series feeling more confident, capable and connected to industry experts.
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 over a long period of time, but in particular the year 2021. They could be a volunteer administrator, official, umpire or coach, who has provided support, encouragement or inspiration through hard work; often through self-sacrifice and without personal gain.
Rachael Rylance - Life Saving
2021 saw Rachael culminate her position on the Life Saving Victoria board after six years in the role. She was responsible for driving state-wide life saving participation year-round for 10,000+ members across 57 clubs, including delivering events for all ages, high-performance, coaching and officiating programs. Her leadership was integral in the organisations’ COVID-19 recovery strategy, resulting in an increase of 683 accredited officials but she also progressed on implementing on-beach carnival management technology solutions and carnival risk and safety reviews. In addition, Rachael also serves as secretary, patrol captain, coach, team manager and masters competitor at Elwood Life Saving Club.
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. This could be through a single initiative, event or longer-term initiative (i.e. program, project or campaign) implemented within the past 2-3 years which has provided significant benefit to Victorian sport during 2021.
Virtual Health and Wellness Programs - Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria
In response to COVID-19 restrictions, Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria (BSRV) developed a range of virtual health, wellness and social programs to ensure the blind sports community stayed connected. With the support of BSRV's Technology Advisors’, participants were upskilled in using computers, live video and tele-conferencing which has, in turn, boosted their autonomy and employability. Regional and remote areas of Victoria that previously were unable to be involved are also more connected than ever and the suite of virtual programs is now a permanent, ongoing opportunity after 240 people were involved through 2021.
This award recognise Victorian Masters athletes or teams who have achieved outstanding results in respect to their performances at a national and/or international level during the 2021 year.
Samantha Barrow - Life Saving
In addition to holding the position of beach events manager for Mordialloc Life Saving Club’s youth competitors at the 2021 Victorian Championships, Samantha proved herself a triple-threat on the sand with her personal performances. At the Victorian Masters Championships, she won the gold medal in the 45-49 years women’s 2km run, beach flags and beach sprint events and then stepped up on the national stage as well, collecting a silver medal in the 40-44 years women’s beach flags and a beach sprint bronze medal in the same category.
This award recognises Victorian junior athletes who have achieved outstanding results in respect to performance/s at a national and/or international level during the 2021 year.
Oscar Piastri - Motorsport
The first Australian to win the FIA Formula 2 Championship, Oscar’s achievement was even more remarkable as he accomplished the feat in his rookie season. He won six races, finished on the podium an addition five times, claimed five pole positions and ended the season 62 points clear of his nearest rival. Named the winner of the 2021 Sir Jack Brabham Award, one of Motorsport Australia's highest honours, Oscar is now aiming to become the country’s 18th driver in Formula 1.
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 2021. Through positive and inspiring media coverage, the sport has benefited from an improved public-facing image, increased participation, inclusivity and/or greater exposure.
International Women's Day Campaign - Netball Victoria
On International Women’s Day, Netball Victoria launched a digital campaign advocating for greater recognition of female sporting icons. Obtaining in-kind support from the Statues For Equality project and financial investment from the Victorian Government, Netball Victoria sought to address the imbalance of Victoria’s existing sporting statues which tally 29 men, four women and three horses. Engaging freelancer Linda Pearce, online content pieces reached over 288,000 people while 41 print and digital articles were published. The campaign culminated in December when it was announced that Sharelle McMahon would be honoured with a statue outside John Cain Arena.
The Peter Norman Inclusion Award recognises an individual or organisation that has made a significant contribution to safe, fair and inclusive sport, promoting inclusion and diversity in the Victorian sport and active recreation sector while pushing the boundaries to prove that real, genuine change can be made through sport.
Ferntree Gully Tennis Club - Tennis
Striving to be a fun, active and inclusive community club, the volunteer run Ferntree Gully Tennis Club created an All-Abilities Strategic Plan including an Inclusion and Diversity position to ensure outcomes were met. They worked on the initiative for 18 months, persevering through lockdowns, to co-design a program with, and for, people with an intellectual disability. A trial program was held in December and positive feedback from participants and Special Olympics Australia representatives led to the establishment of an ongoing program. The insights collected will also assist Tennis Victoria to support other clubs on a similar journey to ensure tennis becomes more inclusive for people with a disability.
This award recognises a Victorian individual male athlete who has achieved outstanding results in respect to performance/s at a national, international level during the 2021 year.
Dylan Alcott - Tennis
In what could be described as a perfect year, Dylan secured the Golden Slam in 2021 by winning all four Grand Slam tournaments before going on to secure a Paralympic quad singles gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He did not drop a set in any of the Grand Slams, claimed his seventh Australian Open overall and ended the year with a 21-1 singles record. He earned the number one world ranking in singles while also finishing third in the doubles rankings.
This award recognises a Victorian individual female athlete who has achieved outstanding results in respect to performance/s at a national, international level during the 2021 year.
Elizabeth Watson - Netball
Named captained of the Australian Diamonds after debuting for the national team in 2016, Liz led them in three of their four matches against New Zealand in the 2021 Constellation Cup which is the preeminent series in international netball. Despite missing the Super Netball season due to injury, Liz earned the captaincy following national squad camps and she then starred for the Diamonds as their highest performing feeder into goals with an average of 31 feeds per game.
The Victorian Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award is presented to an individual or organisation in recognition of outstanding achievement in, or contribution to, sport in Victoria. Based on their significant role in the Victorian sport and active recreation sector, the winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award will be recommended by a panel of expert industry representatives to the Vicsport Board who will determine the final recipient. It is the only award presented at the Victorian Sport Awards which is not decided upon by the judging panel.
Peggy O'Neal AO
This year, the recipient of the Victorian State Government Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award is current Richmond Football Club President and Chancellor of RMIT University, Peggy O’Neal AO.
Since moving to Melbourne in 1989, Peggy has specialised in superannuation and financial services law for more than 25 years and is currently a consultant to Lander and Rogers.
In 2014, the Inquiry into ‘Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation’ was established by the Victorian Government and Peggy was appointed chair of the advisory panel. Determining practical actions that the sporting sector could adopt to enhance participation by women and girls and increase their engagement in leadership and governance roles, the Inquiry also led to the creation of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation.
Peggy has also served as convenor of the Change Our Game Champions program, a group of Victorian sport and active recreation industry leaders that influence change by sharing information and resources.
Having discovered a love of the Richmond Football Club after moving to the suburb and attending her first AFL game, Peggy became the first woman director elected to Richmond’s board in 2005. She created more history in 2013 as the first woman in AFL history to be elected club president and under her leadership, Richmond ended a 37-year Premiership drought in 2017 before creating a dynasty with back-to-back Premierships in 2019 and 2020.
In addition to this honour, Peggy was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2019 while last year, she was named Melburnian of the Year for her leadership and the inspiration she gives to others through her work at Richmond and in tackling womens’ homelessness and mental health.