Vale Paul Vear and David Whittaker
Vicsport is mourning the loss of two key administrators from the Victorian sport and recreation industry with Squash & Racquetball Victoria’s Paul Vear OAM and Water Polo Victoria CEO David Whittaker passing away in January.
Widely recognised as the most important and influential squash and racquetball administrator in Australia, Paul found a passion for squash in the 1970’s and subsequently served the sport for over 45 years.
His hands-on leadership and passion ensured the continued development of squash and racquetball, helping to evolve the Victorian Squash Rackets Association into the Victorian Squash Federation while serving as the General Manager of the Australian Racquetball Association from 1977-2022.
A pioneer and visionary, Paul created the Cheezels Junior Squash Championships in the late 1970’s which became the Australian Junior Age Championships. He was also the catalyst for the Melbourne 2001 International Squash Festival which saw the capital city play host to four world championship events, more than 1,000 players as well as various international seminars and conferences focused on squash across three weeks.
Retiring from the Victorian Squash Federation in 2008 allowed Paul to return his focus to racquetball in a voluntary capacity. He was a regular fixture at all tournaments, compiling ranking points and submitting articles to media outlets while also serving as the Secretary of the Victorian Racquetball Committee.
In addition to his OAM honour in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Paul was named the Victorian Sports Administrator of the Year in 2005, the Squash Australia Administrator of the Year in 2015, a Squash and Racquetball Victoria Legend in 2015 and was inducted into the Racquetball Hall of Fame.
“My thoughts are with Paul’s family and the Squash and Racquetball community,” said Vicsport CEO Lisa Hasker. “I had the great pleasure of knowing Paul for many years, he was very supportive of other sport administrators and I always looked forward to seeing his smile.”
A long-time contributor to the sport of water polo, David served as Secretary of Sydney University Water Polo Men’s Club and CEO of Water Polo NSW before taking up the helm at Water Polo Victoria.
Instrumental in building the junior program at Sydney University and assuming administrative duties of the Club, David brought his skills to Water Polo NSW where he helped the organisation regain a positive footing from both a program and financial perspective.
Taking a strong lead in ensuring the overhaul of strategic thinking with the board, David was also regularly seen at weekend games and tournaments, including relishing the opportunity to referee.
He arrived at Water Polo Victoria a time of rebuild, with COVID severely impacting the state. David’s enthusiasm sparked positivity amongst the water polo community and his tireless work and creative thinking assisted Water Polo Victoria to receive government funding as well as find innovative avenues to get members back in the pool. Tragically, David was unable to see the spoils of his hard work and dedication with water polo competition returning in early February.
“David came to Water Polo Victoria at a tricky time and steered them through COVID in recent times,” said Vicsport CEO Lisa Hasker. “He worked tirelessly on getting the Victorian Phoenix up and running and I am sure they were thinking of him during their first games earlier this month.”
The thoughts of Vicsport’s staff are with the family and friends of Paul and David as well as the Squash & Racquetball and Water Polo communities.