Nominations for the Bristol Paint Volunteer of the Year award are still open. To nominate a volunteer to be featured as our Volunteer of the Month from your affiliate click here.
Affiliate: Macksville Falcons
Position: President, Secretary, Regional Director, Coach, Selector, Referee, Course Facilitator
Craig’s impact on the sport of touch football is hard to put into words. He is a humble and hard-working family man who has spent over 40 years serving the touch community in numerous roles. As a player, referee, coach, selector, course facilitator, committee member, secretary, President, Regional Director, just to name a few. Across these many commitments he has given endless amounts of time and energy into the sport, and the Macksville Falcons Touch Association has certainly reaped the benefits because of it.
While some of these responsibilities has Craig in the spotlight, it’s the responsibilities that he takes on behind the scenes that make him even more remarkable. With his roll your sleeves up attitude, Craig’s normal week includes marking lines, cleaning the amenities block, setting up sponsorship signage, managing the fields sprinkler system, emptying bins, stocking the canteen, general administration, coordinating tournament documents, and the list goes on.
Membership at Macksville Falcons has grown steadily under Craig’s leadership and it is one of the largest sporting organisations in the Nambucca Valley; summer competitions are full, representative teams have increased dramatically, and has programs catering for a wide variety of community members. His passion for inclusivity in the sport is evident to all; a strong advocate for women in sport he actively encourages girls to get and stay involved in touch. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Indomie Noodles All Abilities Program at Macksville Falcons which has been a huge success.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport, and there’s no doubt that Craig has had an immeasurable impact on his local touch community and beyond. We are thrilled to recognize Craig’s exceptional contributions to touch football over the years and present him the Volunteer of the Month award, thanks to Bristol.
We caught up with Craig to talk about his touch footy journey, advice to any touch newcomers, and the incredible success of the Indomie Noodles All Abilities Program at Macksville. Read on to find out more.
How did you first become involved with Touch Football and the Macksville Falcons?
I have been involved with Touch for about 40 years, starting as a player in my teens with the Hornsby Lions. I continued with them as a player, referee, and committee member until we moved away for work. Fast forward a little bit and we had relocated again, this time to the Nambucca Shire where I immediately jumped back into playing touch. In 2010, the idea of starting our own touch club was born when fellow touch friends moved to town from Sydney. We established a committee and in 2011 the Macksville Falcons Touch Association was formed.
What improvements and/or advancements in the sport have you experienced?
I remember when I first started out it was 7 a side with a marker and you were allowed to kick, over the years there have certainly been many developments! Rule changes along the way have made the sport faster and more dynamic. Technical areas have advanced significantly, the content of referee and coaching courses has improved and the availability of coaching and development in these areas results in higher quality referees and coaches. In turn, players are getting better with increased player development opportunities and the game has grown into more of a spectacle than ever before. Of course, there is also the advancement in technology which makes the job of a volunteer and administrator faster and easier!
You’ve been a long-term volunteer for our sport what keeps encouraging you to be involved?
I love our sport, the people involved at all levels and the friendships I have made over the years. I enjoy working with a team of hard-working volunteers to see a positive result and to see that what we have built continues to have such a positive benefit for all our members and the wider touch community. To see people, particularly children, enjoying themselves with a smile on their face makes me feel that all the effort behind the scenes is worth it.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into touch football?
Touch is a sport for everyone, no matter the age, gender, ability, cultural background. There are many avenues to get involved apart from playing that could suit you. Refereeing, coaching, selecting, volunteer, canteen, committee, administrator, the list is endless! Touch is a very welcoming sport, with a great family culture. It’s a sport with many levels from social to elite and is excellent for developing essential life skills like teamwork, communication, decision making, just to name a few. It is also a sport that runs for the majority of the year if you are looking to really be involved. Lookup your local touch affiliate and make contact.
What is your Touch Football highlight?
My personal touch highlight has been coaching a representative team of dedicated girl's from 12 years of age when our affiliate was first formed. Then watching them develop and grow with the training and support of our affiliate over the next 10 years from a team that never won a game at the beginning to playing in the grand final of the NSW Junior State Cup 18 Girl's Finals series and the NSW State Cup Women’s 20's grand final 3 years in a row. To see a team from a small country affiliate such as ours ranked 2nd in the state for a prolonged period is a huge achievement and I’m so proud of it!
Can you tell me about the formation of the Macksville Falcons All-Abilities program?
Our Macksville Falcons Indomie Noodles All Abilities program began after observing a lecture on the Touch Football Australia Indomie Noodles All Abilities program at the NSWTA state conference about 3 years ago. We contacted the local disability services in our shire to find that there was interest in the program and they registered. We also advertised on our social media platforms to increase traction. We then worked to include the program into our weekly local competition. Our wonderful affiliate has many willing players that offered to help build the program into the success that it is. Touch Football Australia supplied training for these players and the equipment we required to deliver the program. We ran our Indomie Noodles All Abilities training program for 2 years and now the majority of these players have moved into 1 of our divisions and are playing as a team. Many of these players have also represented NSW Northern Eagles at the Inferno National Touch League for the last 2 years, which is an incredible experience for everyone involved.
How has covid-19 affected Touch Football in your region?
Our region has been very lucky to have avoided the full impact of COVID 19. We have never been in full lockdown but have seen restrictions that put our competitions, trials, and trainings on hold until recently. As a result, planning has been underway for commencement of all of our touch areas, but this was difficult due to the ever evolving situation. We are behind in our usual schedule, but now that we are open its full steam ahead.
If you were to win the Bristol Paint Volunteer of the Year award and $15,000 worth of prizes towards a home or club renovation – what projects come to mind?
The clubhouse at our venue has undergone some renovations recently but unfortunately the funding did not cover the roof or painting of the internal and external areas of the building. If I was lucky enough to win the Bristol Paint Volunteer of the Year award this is the project I would nominate. It would be amazing for our clubhouse to visually represent how proud and successful we are of the Macksville Falcons Touch Association and be a beacon to the wider sporting community in our region.