2021 Victorian Sport Award Finalists

Congratulations to the below individuals, organisations, clubs and Local Government Authorities for progressing through to the finalist stage of the 2021 Victorian Sport Awards (VSAs). Winners will be announced on 15 June when the VSAs are held at CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park.


This award is open to Victorian coaches who have achieved outstanding coaching performance/s with Victorian athlete/s or teams during the 2021 year.


John Hart - Gymnastics

The only Australian women's artistic gymnastics (WAG) coach with representatives at the last four Olympics Games, John coached Emily Whitehead to win the all-around Gold at the Continental Championships in 2021. That secured Emily’s spot at the Tokyo Olympics where she, accompanied by John, scored a personal best in the all-around competition. Known for his willingness to provide advice, consultation and guidance to athletes, staff and fellow coaches while serving on multiple advisory committees, John recently became one of the few WAG coaches in the world to earn the International Gymnastics Federation Honorary Coaches’ Diploma while also being named Gymnastics Australia’s 2021 WAG International Coach of the Year.
Jeff Hopkins - Football

The head coach of Melbourne Victory’s W-League team (now called the A-League women), Jeff guided his side to the 2020/21 Championship, their third title in the league’s history. He also claimed his third Coach of the Year award, setting him apart from any other league coach, past or present. A leader in the growth of Australian women’s football, Jeff also coaches Melbourne Victory’s elite girls program which fosters the talent of 14-18 year-old’s and he has helped develop the likes of Kyra Coonie-Cross, Courtney Nevin and Angie Beard into national representative players.

Alana Thomas - Rugby Union

Alana has been the head coach of the Super W Melbourne Rebels since 2018 and steered them to their best results in club history in 2021. In a generally male-dominated sport, particularly at the head coach level, Alana is committed to growing the female side and has steadily built the Melbourne Rebels to become the first professional women’s rugby union program in Australia. Instilling confidence in local youth players, Alana helped bring in 14 newcomers through 2021 and, funded by herself, introduced the start of a “capping” ceremony for debutants pre-game to uphold the motto of ‘once a Melbourne Rebel, always a Melbourne Rebel.’
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 head coach - Para for Table Tennis Australia, Alois spearheaded Australia’s most successful Paralympics campaign in Tokyo which saw them bring home the highest number of medals ever, including their first gold since 1984. Playing a major role in state and national coaching courses, Alois’ training tutorials are made available via the international PingSkills website while he also devotes time to establishing better Para programs across Victoria.


This award is open to 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.


Kim Dunstan - Calisthenics

A principle coach and founding member of K&K Calisthenics, Kim fosters an environment of equality and a do-your-best attitude. With calisthenics only able to continue in an online format for parts of 2021, Kim conducted weekly Zoom classes designed not only for training but for engagement with trivia, games and cooking activities included while she also arranged care package deliveries to be sent out. This aided in member retention and enabled them to participate in the one stage performance opportunity in late 2021. One of only ten current registered Level 2 calisthenics coaches in Victoria, Kim willingly shares her own knowledge and experiences regularly at Victorian Calisthenics Coaches Association forums.

Aidan Fitzgerald - Tennis

Providing inclusive, engaging and adaptable coaching programs for participants aged 3 through to adults, Aidan has created a culture of fun, inclusivity and support across a number of tennis clubs. A qualified coach through Tennis Australia’s Master Club Professional course, Aidan runs coaching workshops before each term to set the strategic focus and he can also be found on court, playing doubles with coaching clients to build their confidence and mentor their development. Aidan also runs a girls squad to increase female participation and his Cardio + Kids program caters for parents and children with morning tea included.
Shaylah House - Netball

As Coach of the Under-17 Wodonga Raiders, Shayla had to engage her team both on and off the court as they traversed through the COVID-19 pandemic while also navigating the cross-border situation with players residing in Victoria and New South Wales. Regular Zoom trainings were held when the team could not come together in person and Shaylah encouraged positivity through mindfulness sessions that helped relieve stresses brought on by the pandemic. Once the 2021 season resumed, the Raiders proved they were fit both mentally and physically as they went on to claim the minor premiership.
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 is open to Victorian officials who have demonstrated excellence in their role as an official of their chosen sport during the 2021 year.


Sandra David - Badminton

While multiple tournaments were interrupted by the pandemic and lockdowns, Sandra worked tirelessly to deliver referee and umpires courses and also officiated herself at the Altona Junior Open, Ballarat Open and Victoria Open. Re-appointed as chair of the Badminton Australia Technical Officials Committee, a position she has held since 2016, Sandra’s dedication to the sport was demonstrated as she conducted pre-tournament work with event directors, took a day trip to the location to view venues and spent hours in planning consultation ahead of the proposed Bendigo International and National Combined Individual Championships.

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.

Lucy Hatton - Motorsport

Involved in motorsport for over ten years, Lucy has progressed to a gold level timekeeper, the highest of Motorsport Australia’s officiating licence ranks. In 2021, Lucy organised, assisted with rostering and supervised timing at national events including the Geelong Revival National Classic, Supercars in Victoria and interstate, regional Victorian events and the Bathurst 6 Hour. Lucy also created and ran Motorsport Australia’s first live online training course which covered theoretical content, allowing 18 participants to complete vital training. Considered a valuable mentor in motorsport, Lucy welcomes the opportunity to continue the succession of skills and experience of officials and volunteers in the sport.

John Mills - Athletics

Traveling around the state, John officiates at his local centre, is the competition director for regional competition and also visits nearby centres to provide assistance, advice and guidance to new officials. In 2021, he officiated at the Little Athletics state combined event, state track and field Championships as well as the region track and field Championships and as he is always looking to improve, John is currently being trained to take up more senior positions such as Athletics Meet Manager.


This award is open to Victorian sporting officials (umpires/referees/judges) who have made a significant contribution to their club, and/or association/district. This award recognises the exceptional contribution made by a Victorian official in 2021 with a particular focus on improving community sport through fairness, integrity and making sport more welcoming and inclusive.


Kaya Cook - Life Saving

A club committee member in the role of Carnival Coordinator, Kaya has assisted with the training and mentoring of new officials for almost ten years while also serving as a state senior official at Junior and Senior Life Saving Victoria Carnivals since 2014. Highly professional and well-regarded by many clubs, Kaya juggles multiple responsibilities with mentoring younger officials strengthening the pathway for females in particular. She has qualifications to also act in the roles of Chief Judge, Carnival Referee and most importantly Safety and Emergency Management Coordinator, ensuring high levels of risk/safety standards are met across all Victorian Lifesaving Competitions.

Andrew Guerin - Rowing

One of the few people to be a Life Member of his club, state and national association, Andrew has volunteered across numerous roles but it’s his 40 years of umpiring at state, national, international and Olympic competition that stands out. His passion has never wavered, attending every regatta possible and he always has time to answer questions from younger umpires, encouraging them to do their best and importantly, enjoy their role. With a significant passion for Coastal Rowing, Andrew is leading the way in the development of safe and fair umpiring practices in the new discipline and the implementation of State trials and competition.

Anita Hill - Netball

Dedicating countless hours towards 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 umpire pathways. With the Nepean Netball Association suffering from a lack of umpires returning after the COVID-19 pandemic, Anita located officials and umpire coaches, creating opportunities for six young umpires and helping one qualifier as a tester. An umpire herself for almost 30 years, Anita’s commitment to grassroots netball has seen her co-found the Peninsula Netball Umpire Association which assists in increasing the quantity and quality of netball umpires in her region.

Wayne Hinton - Australian Rules Football

An umpire for the best part of 40 years, Wayne’s experience traverses VFL/AFL and the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) where he officiated over 600 games. In 2021, Wayne regularly umpired three junior games in a row on Sunday’s to ensure they had a trained and experienced umpire, clocking up six games per week in total. A Life Member of the AFL Umpires Association and VAFA Umpires Association, Wayne also devotes his time to mentoring the next generation and supporting young female umpires which includes his daughter who is a VAFA boundary umpire.


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 for their state in this National Championship 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.

Senior Boys Tetrathlon Team - Pony Club Victoria

Competing at the Pony Club Australia National Championships, the Pony Club Victoria Senior Boys Tetrathlon team performed admirably in unusual circumstances. Competitors could not convene at the one place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead participated from their home state. Amos Vagg, Cohen Wade and Darcy Wade all impressed, posting perfect ride scores as Victoria claimed wins in all disciplines with Amos winning the run, Cohen the shooting and Darcy the swimming.

South Melbourne Seahorses Rescue & Resuscitation Team - Life Saving

Showcasing their talents at a local, state and national level during 2021, the South Melbourne Seahorses Rescue & Resuscitation Team took home the Youth Team of the Year award at the Life Saving Victoria Awards of Excellence. They swept their way through every local and state competition, recording first places throughout the year including at the 2021 Victorian Championships held in Lorne. They then headed north to the Sunshine Coast for the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships and returned home with a silver medal to cap a successful year.

Sub-junior Showjumping Team - Pony Club Victoria

Comprising six members (Matilda Mason, Xanthe Wade, Bliss Vandenberg, Georgina Pascoe, Amy Bennett and Kane Radburn), the Sub-Junior Showjumping team were named Pony Club Australia National Champions in 2021. All aged 10-12, the six riders achieved high placings in every class to combine for the highest score while Matilda was named individual national Champion and Xanthe the individual Reserve National Champion.


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.

Melbourne Football Club - Australian Rules Football

Ending the longest active premiership drought and the fourth longest ever in VFL/AFL history, the Melbourne Demons claimed the 2021 AFL Premiership with a 74-point win over the Western Bulldogs after trailing by as much as 19 points in the second half. Due to COVID-19 disruptions, the Grand Final was played in Western Australia but Melbourne proved the superior team after finishing the regular season on top of the ladder and recording an average winning margin of 63 points in their three finals games.

Melbourne United - Basketball

After a rollercoaster NBL season disrupted by COVID-19, Melbourne United steeled themselves for a finals season on the road after completing the regular season three games clear of any other team. They defeated cross-town rivals South East Melbourne Phoenix in the Semi-Finals and then took the first two games of a best-of-five Grand Final series against the Perth Wildcats on the road. They were then able to return to Melbourne for Game 3, clinching the franchise’s sixth Championship on home soil and in front of fans.

Melbourne Victory FC - Football

Edged out of claiming the Premiers Plate in the last game of the regular season by Sydney FC and dropping to third place, Melbourne Victory made a statement in the Semi-Final with a crushing 6-2 win over Brisbane Roar. This set up a rematch with Sydney in the final and they exacted their revenge with a thrilling 1-0 win in the final moments of extra time. Led by head coach Jeff Hopkins and featuring a mix of burgeoning talent and experienced campaigners, Victory set the foundations for an A-League women’s dynasty in 2021.


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.

Head of the Schoolgirls Regatta - Rowing

Run during the height of COVID-19 restrictions, the Head of the Schoolgirls (HOSG) regatta featured 2,500 schoolgirls competing in front of 5,000 spectators who were permitted access across multiple segregated zones to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. The economic and social contribution of the three-day carnival to the Geelong region is estimated to be over $5 million while the return to competition for participants was desperately needed during a tough time for the industry. Rowing participation at the local schools around the area grew 21% following the regatta while schoolgirl rowing across the state increased by 15%.

NAIDOC Week Family Day - Footscray Hockey Club

All about celebrating their First Nations community, Footscray Hockey Club's (FHC) NAIDOC Week Family Day was a multi-faceted event that attracted over 500 people from Maribyrnong City Council and the broader Victorian hockey community. Ensuring they had Indigenous members on the organising committee, FHC ran seven activities during the day and formed relationships with local artist Lowell Hunter (Salty One) and advocate Aretha Brown. Engaging with past associates of the club and many new First Nations community members, the Family Day has garnered much greater interest in the club which is being noticed in 2022.

Victoria Police & Emergency Services Games - Victoria Police Games Federation

The Victoria Police & Emergency Services Games celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2021 and were proud to stage the Games in Geelong where nearly 2,400 participants from 30 agencies participated in a five-day multi-sport event, featuring 40+ sports. Connections were made with 30 local clubs, associations and venues who provided volunteers and resources to make the Games a truly memorable experience. Pulling the event together amidst a pandemic was an amazing feat by the organising committee, providing the opportunity for frontline law enforcement and emergency services workers to prioritise their physical and mental health and wellbeing.


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.


Chadstone Calisthenics Club - Calisthenics

Adapting to changing times and striving to create a learning environment for all their members, Chadstone Calisthenics Club provided Zoom classes during every lockdown that promoted safety while at home. They also ran masters classes for women over 26 and kindergarten come-and-try events when possible and offered coaches child safety training. Providing a pathway through their organisation, Chadstone prides itself on coaches courses that they have paid for which has allowed a number of personnel, who started at the club as 3-5 year-old’s, to continue at the club and mentor the next generation.

Fawkner Park Tennis Centre - Tennis

Fawkner Park Tennis Centre (FPTC) welcomed over 1,200 unique visitors per week through 2021 thanks to diverse offerings including Deaf and Hard of Hearing Tennis, Rally4Ever Community Play for people suffering with their mental health, Rally4Ever Refugee sessions and Women’s Tennis Week which featured seven days of tennis delivered by an all-female coaching team, free childcare and LGBTIQ+ inclusion while promoting active, self-confident women. FPTC have developed relationships with local schools to encourage a pathway starting at kinder tennis and created a seven-level adult program to ensure there is a starting point available for all comers.

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 as 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 and instituted a gender equity policy, resulting in a 50% increase for women and girls in addition to 40% of their board and coaches being female.

Melbourne Jets Junior Academy - Ice Hockey

The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to derail the Melbourne Jets Junior Academy Ice Hockey Club’s winter season but their commitment to child development saw them able to field a team in every age division. Working hard to encourage new entrants into the development program and maintaining volunteer coaches, the Academy ran off-ice Zoom fitness training and mental health sessions to improve team bonding while outdoor settings were utilised when possible to assist a smoother transition back to play. While this was a difficult time for all involved, the hard work paid off with two teams winning their age division Championship and a third claiming the Runners-Up.


This award is open to Victorian sports administrators who have demonstrated an outstanding level of achievement during the 2021 calendar year at the State Sporting Association, Regional Sports Assembly or National Sporting Organisation (Victorian based). 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.


Michaela Cook - Hockey Victoria

Michaela’s tireless work at Hockey Victoria helped create safe and inclusive environments for marginalised communities. She spearheaded Hockey Victoria’s inclusion and diversity programs including Women and Girls, Access All Abilities, LGBTIQ+ as well as Gender Equity and Diversity Strategy. Michaela also established a Youth Advisory committee, a pride action plan and achieved a record number of teams at the 2021 Stand Out Cup, a hockey event that celebrates diversity and inclusion. Supporting colleagues to create safe and inclusive spaces themselves, Michaela assisted clubs with retention and recruitment through the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

Tanya Gamble - Netball Victoria

Overseeing and driving Netball Victoria’s diversity and inclusion space as well as junior development, Tanya’s work benefits the lives of countless participants and their families. She has addressed issues within registration forms to better reflect members’ gender diversity, implemented the delivery of LGBTIQ+ education to staff, clubs, affiliates and leagues while also ensuring LBGTIQ+ days of significance are celebrated by Netball Victoria. Tanya is passionate about upskilling the next generation and has delivered school programs in person and online while she also worked to create a pop-up sensory room at Melbourne Vixens’ home games and managed the Vixens’ inaugural ‘First Nations Round’ game.

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 applications for ‘Together More Active’ and ‘Working For Victoria’ funding, renewed major sponsorship for the City of Melbourne Event Partnerships program, secured new partnerships with Reclink Australia and SOLVE Disability Solutions and delivered in-person events such as the DSR Festival and DSR Awards. Managing government relationships during COVID-19, Ayden also helped secure interstate travel for the Wheelchair Rugby Nationals which was critical in preparing the athletes for the Tokyo Olympics.

Gabriella Tobias - Tennis Victoria

Tasked with leading the Tennis Victoria COVID-19 communications, Gabriella provided exemplary service in keeping clubs, coaches and associations up to date via more than 30 website, email and social media notices across six months. She provided updates at all times of the day and on weekends when necessary to ensure the tennis community could adapt accordingly while working closely with the national association to promote tennis’ return to sport. When having to cancel the 2021 Country Week event, Gabriella called to inform team captains directly. These often-stressful tasks were achieved while also delivering day-to-day duties such as a new Strategic Plan, Annual Report and the Victorian Tennis 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.


Para-Sport Challenge - Gippsport

Receiving significantly increased enquiries from people with disability during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Gippsport facilitated a Para-Sport challenge to engage with the community online. 52 participants showcased how they were staying active through a variety of sports including boxing, cricket, hockey and other modified ball games while also exercising on treadmills, with weights and bike riding. The Challenge showcased the need for people with disability to stay active while also succeeding in creating online connections, providing support and motivation.

Sandbelt Bowls Region - Lawn Bowls

Realising the need to bring coaches and players together to overcome the sense of isolation during COVID-19 lockdowns, Gary Lasky and the Sandbelt Bowls Region headed online. Gary taught himself to develop Zoom seminars, hosting five that attracted over 1000 participants from 100 different clubs and engaged Australia’s best coaches to share their practical knowledge. Feedback from participants was outstanding with new training drills being warmly received and the use of smart phone videos improving participation from a younger audience. Bowls Australia are now evaluating the idea of running a similar program nationwide next season.

School Clinic and Come & Try Events - Footscray Hockey Club

Building relationships with 12 local primary schools adjacent to their grounds in Yarraville, Footscray Hockey Club (FHC) linked with Physical Education and Sport teachers to deliver two-week hockey clinics. Sending two coaches per class of 25 children, FHC target almost 2,500 students and they then promote their Come and Try program which runs across four weeks. Most recently, a conversion rate of 80 new children entering at a grassroots level saw another successful campaign for FHC with the club now offering sessions for Under-6’s, Under-8’s and Under-10’s while feeding talented juniors into Hockey Victoria teams starting at Under-12’s.

Softball Batter Up School Roadshow - Softball Victoria

The 'Softball Batter Up School Roadshow' delivered free introduction clinics in local schools, targeting Grade 3's and Grade 4's. 5,000 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, resulting in over 150 new participants registering for Softball Batter Up and Fully Loaded T-Ball programs. The Roadshow also led to the development of strong relationships between Softball Victoria, local schools, clubs and associations with sporting school programs increasing by 76%.


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.


Diversity, Inclusion and Participation Program - City of Boroondara

A program of works developed by the City of Boroondara to make their sporting pavilions inclusive to all people, the Diversity, Inclusion and Participation Program (DIPP) has supported 120 user groups and over 20,000 participants. Works were completed across 13 pavilions including additional player and umpire change rooms with lockable showers and toilets, reserve and path safety lighting, privacy screens as well as adequate space for first aid.

Melbourne City FC Partnership - City of Casey and City of Greater Dandenong

Valuing partnerships with elite sporting clubs to pass on benefits to their community, City of Casey collaborated with City of Greater Dandenong to approach Melbourne City FC with the prospect of relocating to South East Melbourne. The initiative led to a 30-year agreement between the parties and has been well received by the community with Melbourne City FC securing partnerships with five Casey football clubs and their charitable arm, City in the Community, establishing relationships with local schools. The number of Casey participants in Melbourne City FC’s junior academy has doubled in one year while a new City Football School site at Casey Fields has become the club’s most popular location.

Mentone Athletic Club - City of Kingston

Utilised by athletic clubs, local schools and the community, the Dolomore Athletics Track and Field has been revamped with a complete track reconstruction and resurfacing along with the installation of a new hammer throw cage and upgrades to fences and retaining walls. Tree root damage had caused track lanes to be closed and the removal of 23 trees seemed imminent but investment in air trenching identified which tree roots could be pruned to prevent their removal and all trees on the reserve were eventually saved. Outdated turnstiles were removed to provide better access for people with disability while SmartTracks was also installed, allowing users to time their performances through Bluetooth on their smart phone.

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 over 12 months and made available to 70+ clubs with over 120 registrants. Topics covered included 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.


Bruce Astbury - Motorsport

Using his skills and knowledge to further develop motorsport within Victoria, Bruce manages and oversees all events run by Marque Sports Car Association Victoria (MSCAV) as its President and serves as Chairman of the Motorsport Australia Supersprint Panel. Bruce’s hard work and dedication has grown MSCAV’s membership base, incorporated other clubs within their association to allow for collaboration and hosting of joint events while he remained active in communicating to all club members and advocating for motorsport’s return during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside his wife Petrina, Bruce also runs MSCAV’s Come and Try Day which has been delivered to over 500 new competitors and features in-classroom and on-track training.

Gen Dohrmann - Women Sport Australia

In her first year as President of Women Sport Australia (WSA), Gen led a voluntary board of 11 directors to increase the organisation’s visibility to new heights. In 2021, WSA had 40 participants in the online Women in Sport mentoring program including seven scholarships funded by partner Shona Joy, received 313 image submissions for the Women in Sport Photo Action Award competition that involved News Corp as a media partner, launched Gender Equity in Sport Pledge & Virtual Roundtable for Women in Sport groups and partnered with Cadbury to facilitate $150,000 of uniform grants for grassroots clubs across Australia.

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.

Liz Tektonopoulos - Tennis

In addition to managing their website, social media, canteen, uniform orders, leading their OH&S and COVID-19 compliance as well as liaising with Tennis Victoria and Hume City Council, Liz is President and Membership Coordinator of Greenvale Tennis Club (GTC). Hosting community events, coordinating flyer drops and increasing GTC’s online presence has more than doubled the club’s memberships and Liz has also instigated moving to online court bookings and working with council to raise awareness of club maintenance issues. This has resulted in successful funding of new hardware that integrates lights and bookings, grant applications, implementing child safe standards and connecting the club with local schools for come-and-try events.


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.


Pier to Pub and Mountain to Surf Events - Lorne Surf Life Saving Club

Held virtually in January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 4000 people took part in the Pier to Pub and Mountain to Surf events with Lorne Surf Life Saving Club continuing to promote active recreation in a COVID-safe manner. Participants were encouraged to complete the required distance for each event wherever they could, whether that be in the ocean, a pool, lake or river and social media was utilised to keep participants engaged. Focusing on positive messaging, water safety and healthy lifestyles, both events were a welcome distraction for the life saving community.

VICSWIM Summer Kidz Program - Aquatics & Recreation Victoria

A low-cost learn to swim initiative that develops children’s water safety awareness, respect for different water environments and swimming survival skills, the VICSWIM Summer Kidz Program features 30-minute lessons held over five consecutive days. Responding to a disproportionate number of drowning fatalities, Aquatics & Recreation Victoria ran the program in smaller communities, areas without access to other swimming lessons and high risk locations. In 2021, over 300 teachers at 167 venues delivered the program for 16,516 participants. 88% of parents surveyed indicated they were likely or highly likely to enrol their children next year and 97% believed there was scope to grow the program.

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.

Women's Introductory Golf Program - Shepparton Golf Club

Run by women members while leveraging the “This Girl Can” campaign, Shepparton Golf Club’s Women’s Introductory program was aimed at creating a welcoming, supporting and low-cost pathway to the sport. With all equipment provided, Golf ‘FUN’damentals explored grip, aim, stance and basic swing lessons, Get Golfing saw participants hit the course with a community instructor while a Mentorship program linked newcomers with an experienced member. As a direct result of those initiatives, women’s membership at the club increased by 55% while 154 participants were involved overall.


This award is open to 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.


Alana Baldi - Athletics

Alana put in a dominant display across a number of 30-34 year-old disciplines in 2021, winning gold in the Throws Pentathlon at the Victorian Masters Throws Championships. This performances was combined with silver medals in the hammer throw, shot put, high jump and long jump as well as bronze medals in the discus and javelin at the Oceania Masters Athletics Championships. Capping off a brilliant year, Alana also tallied personal bests and gold medals at the Victorian Masters Track and Field Championships in the hammer throw, shot put, weight throw, discus and triple jump while breaking six club records throughout the season at the Shepparton Athletics Club.

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.

Glenn Busby - Tennis

While several tournaments were severely impacted by COVID-19 and travel restrictions, Glenn made the most of the competitions he could compete in during 2021, finishing inside the top seven on the International Tennis Federation rankings in the 60+ and 65+ categories. At the Victorian Seniors Grasscourt Championships, he finished Runners-Up in the 40+ singles while winning the 50+ doubles and at the Greater Geelong Oceania Regional Championships, Glenn took home two more wins in the 50+ doubles and 65+ singles.

Jason Lees - Wheelchair Rugby

Helping the Australian Steelers to a fourth-placed finish at the Tokyo Paralympic Games was not quite the fairytale finish Jason was hoping for, however his fearlessness and intimidation on court helped lead him through an illustrious career that spanned over 200 games before he announced his retirement in late 2021. Jason also captained his state side and reached the Semi-Finals at the National Championship on the Gold Coast in his final year as a player but the good news is he will not be lost to the sport, having recently been appointed the Australia A wheelchair rugby coach.


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.


Nicholas Lum - Table Tennis

Nicholas earned a career-high world ranking for his age group in 2021, placing himself inside the top ten for the first time. He won five state titles and numerous competitions on the Table Tennis Victoria state tournament circuit which saw him regularly compete against the best in the country. Internationally at the World Under-17 Table Tennis Youth Contender events, he won gold in Italy and Slovakia and a silver in Hungary while also claiming a bronze in Slovakia in the Under-19’s. Topping off his fantastic year, Nicholas was named the Table Tennis Victoria Junior Male of the Year.

Jade Melbourne - Basketball

While still a teenager, Jade made her case for earning a permanent spot on the Australian Opals’ roster in her national side debut as she helped them win a bronze medal at the Asia Cup. This followed an Under-19 World Championship where she averaged 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in a silver-medal winning campaign. Jade also showcased her talents on home soil, earning a WNBL contract with the University of Canberra Capitals and claiming the club Rookie of the Year award.

Col Pearse - Swimming

Preparing to compete at the Paralympic trials to earn a spot at Tokyo, border closures and school commitments meant Col was unable to attend the event. However, his performance at the Australian Age Swimming Championships, where he won gold in the 17-18 year old 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle and 100m breaststroke was enough to book himself a spot. He then had a fantastic Paralympics debut, finishing eighth in the 100m backstroke S10, fourth in the 200m individual medley SM10 and winning a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly S10 while also setting an Australian record.

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.


COVID in Sport Podcast - My Sport Live

Expanding into the podcast world in 2021, My Sport Live’s COVID in Sport offering told stories of influential figures in Australian sport at local, state and national level and the impact that COVID-19 has had on them. From challenges to opportunities, the podcast analysed how sports have responded, survived and even thrived, highlighted the importance of administrators and helped listeners workshop ideas of their own to respond to the pandemic. Garnering thousands of downloads, guests also relayed the significant buy-in from their own sporting communities following their episodes as they gained a better understanding of how their sport has been guided through the pandemic.

Jarrod Potter - Basketball Victoria

Playing an important communication role for Basketball Victoria (BV), Jarrod promoted all levels of Victorian basketball in 2021 via social media channels, website and emails. He provided on the ground coverage of Australian Junior Championships, up-to-date reporting of the Tokyo Olympics and showcased new programs including the Kumon Country-Metro Challenge, expansion of the NBL1 league and BV’s wheelchair basketball Sports Development Program which gained 30 participants. Producing fun and energetic content through the COVID-19 lockdowns to keep members engaged, Jarrod’s communication skills were then utilised to mitigate participation losses as the sport came out of lockdowns and returned to play.

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.

Women in Sport Action Photo Awards - Women Sport Australia

Highlighting the skill, strength and athleticism of Australia's sportswomen, the Women in Sport Photo Action Awards were held for a third year in 2021 with official media partner News Corp providing a major boost to the exposure of the Awards. Despite COVID-19 lockdowns affecting the amount of sport that was played, 313 images were submitted by 88 photographers across the Amateur and Professional categories. Demonstrating to young girls the pathway to elite female sport and showcasing how sport can be welcoming and inclusive, the Awards play a significant role in changing the perception of female athletes, ignoring static images and focusing on intensity, grit and determination.


The Peter Norman Inclusion Award recognises an individual or organisation that has made a significant contribution to safe, fair and inclusive sport. This award honours those who have pushed the boundaries to prove that real, genuine change can be made through sport.


Maurice Gleeson OAM - Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria

As President of Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria (BSRV) for the past 30 years, Maurice has an unwavering drive to assist people who are blind or have low vision live fulfilling, purposeful lives with the same opportunities as sighted people. Through BSRV, he has increased sport and recreation programs from a total of seven to 30 while establishing new partnerships with over 20 sport providers and initiating at-home programs during COVID lockdowns. He utilises his profile in the national media to advocate for blind sports, has contributed to legislative change to increase awareness and access and assists newly arrived migrants with vision loss to settle in Australia.

Elizabeth Gosper OAM - Inclusive Sports Training

The head coach of Inclusive Sports Training, Australia’s first triathlon club for people with learning difficulties, Liz has grown participation numbers from 18 in 2013 to over 90 athletes in 2021. Liz’s coaching enriches the lives of all participants and their families with group activities like weekly dinners organised to enhance the sense of togetherness while older athletes volunteer their time to coach younger participants. Advocating on world triathlon committees for her athletes and the subject of inclusion, Liz has also connected with state and national sporting federations while developing a partnership with Triathlon Victoria to include an intellectual impairment category in the Australian Triathlon National Championships.

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 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.

Proud 2 Play and Disability Sport & Recreation Partnership

Proud2Play and Disability Sport & Recreation (DSR) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to address the intersectionality of participants. An ‘All of Me’ speaker series allowed LGBTIQ+ people living with a disability to explain their experiences within sport and recreation and a follow-up ‘Everyone In’ research piece extended the learnings through focus groups and surveys. The organisations are now involved in cross-education to improve their inclusiveness in both sectors and are applying for joint funding opportunities to continue working towards the shared goal of all people having the right to access sport and recreation.

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.

Josh Giddey - Basketball

Emerging onto the basketball scene in 2021, Josh became the youngest Australian to record a triple-double in NBL history before going on to be named NBL Rookie of the Year. Declaring for the NBA draft in April, he was selected as the sixth pick by Oklahoma City and made an immediate impact. Josh claimed four consecutive Western Conference Rookie of the Year awards, became the NBA’s youngest player to notch a triple-double and featured in the NBA All-Star weekend. 2021 also saw Josh make his Australian Boomers debut during the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.

Jock Landale - Basketball

A dominant debut season in the NBL saw Jock average 16 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 39% from the three-point line. He led Melbourne United to the minor Championship and was named to the All-NBL first team before taking his game to another level in the post-season, leading United to the Championship while claiming the finals MVP. Later in the year, he was integral to the Australian Boomers’ ground-breaking bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics with an average of 13 points per game and those combined performances helped him sign a two-year NBA contract with San Antonio.

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 18 th driver in Formula 1.

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.


Aoife Coughlan - Judo

Since bursting onto the scene in 2010 at the Oceania Championships, Aoife has excelled through the 63kg and 70kg weight classes. Finishing seventh at the 2021 Judo World Masters, Aiofe then claimed the bronze medal at the Asian-Pacific Championships in Kyrgyzstan. Placing herself inside the top 32 for her weight division on the world rankings, these results qualified her for the Tokyo Olympics where she led her country and finished inside the top 16.

Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva - Rhythmic Gymnastics

At 20 years of age, Alexandra has been competing internationally for half of her life and despite the interruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was an eventful year for the rhythmic gymnast. She won three gold medals and a silver at the 2021 Australian Gymnastics Championships, was named the Senior International All-Around Victorian Champion and collected five gold medals at international tournaments after competing in Romania, Japan, Russia and Greece. Having made the difficult decision to move overseas to train and compete, Alexandra was the only Australian representative across all gym sports at the 2021 Gymnastics World Championship in Japan.

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.

Emily Whitehead - Artistic Gymnastics

Returning from a long stint of injury recovery, Emily represented Australia at the 2021 Oceania Continental Championships and showed no signs of rust, winning first place and earning a spot at the Tokyo Olympics. There, her combined score on the balance beam, floor exercise, vault and uneven bars in the all-around competition was a personal best to cap off a triumphant year.

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.

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