Ray Vawdon

Touch Football Australia were saddened to hear of the passing of one of the founding fathers of Touch Football, Ray Vawdon, this week.

In the 60s, Ray, or William James Ray Vawdon, along with Bob Dyke, invented Touch Football as a method of training, and as a way of allowing retired players to keep running around in a competitive game, at the South Sydney Junior Rugby League Club.

In 1968, the pair formed the first Touch club, the South Sydney Touch Association.

Vawdon was once quoted as saying, “We didn’t invent Touch, Touch was just something that was ad-libbed by people running around parks and beaches and it was something that was never harnessed into a competition. We thought we’d harness it,” he said.

“We got a few players to go down and we finished up with six teams and that’s how it started and it grew from there. You wouldn’t believe how it grew. It was just something that went so easy, when the word got around ‘what do we do now, we’ve all retired from football’ well that was the answer, Touch.”

Vawdon was the founder of the NSW Touch Football Association (as it was called at the time), and its first President, from 1972 through to 1979.

He was also a driving force behind the establishment of the Australian Touch Association (now Touch Football Australia) during its formation in 1978.

It goes without saying, he was one of the first Life Members of the NSW Touch Association, and he received TFA Life Membership in 2010 along with Bob Dyke.

As well as playing an integral part in structuring the sport from a pastime to an organised sport, Vawdon, along with Dyke, Peter Rooney and Phil Smith, played important roles in organising many associations across Australia to form; the adoption of a standard set of rules nationally; the first interstate games between NSW and QLD in 1973; the first international tour of New Zealand in 1976; what became known as the Vawdon Cup in 1976 for Sydney representative teams; and the Queensland, Victorian, South Australian and ACT Touch associations to form.

Vale, Ray Vawdon, without whom this sport, which brings joy to hundreds of thousands of Australians, may not have existed as it does today.

Thanks to the Sydney Championships, the ‘Vawdon Cup’ being named in his honour, his contribution to the sport is well understood by the Touch community.

TFA’s thoughts are with Ray’s wife Shirley (who also previously lost son Bradley), Ray’s daughter Sharon, and his grandkids Nadia and Tom.

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