TFA Volunteer Of The Year Award 5 Web Hero (1)

As the saying goes, A week is a long time in Football. If that statement is true, then what does 28 years feel like? The answer is a lifetime of fond memories and a passion for the game that is as strong as ever, according to Bill Sheeky, our Bristol Volunteer of the Month for April.

Let’s cast our minds back to 1995. Some of our readers may not have been born, others living it up in their teenage years free from mobile phones and the internet.

For Bill, it was the start of his incredible tenure as President of Demons Touch Club, a competition he founded in the North-Western suburbs of Adelaide and a role he remarkably still fulfils today.

In an Aussie Rules dominated town, we chat to Bill about his incredible years of service, how he and his club continue to innovate and grow and what continues to drive him to give so much of his time.

Congratulations Bill, 28 years is a remarkable legacy can you tell us how it all started for you?

Thank you, it’s humbling to be recognised and of course I couldn’t do this alone, I have a wonderful team of volunteers and family around me that all work tirelessly to run our competition.

For me, it all started in the summer of 1987. I come from an Aussie Rules background and coached my team to a premiership in ‘87. I was looking for an activity to keep the team together and fit over that summer so entered a team into the local Touch Footy competition.

I really enjoyed it and became involved predominately as a coach from there.

In 1995, a few of us decided to create a competition of our own in Hope Valley that families could be a part of and play either against each other or together. Very social and focused on community and a strong club atmosphere. That was the start of what is now Demons Touch Football Association.

Bill And Stella (1)

Incredible, you’ve worn a few hats along the way as well not just President?

Coming from a coaching background in Aussie Rules I’ve always had a keen interest in the tactics and strategy of Touch Football, so became an accredited Touch Football coach twenty-odd years ago.

I took on the SA 18s Boys coaching gig and really enjoyed teaching plays to individuals who were new to the sport and seeing them execute it on the field. I enjoyed the play calling aspect.

Today, my social team at Demons Touch is usually full of new players whom I teach the basics to. A few then go off and join other teams for more success but that’s ok, it means I’m doing my job and making them better players and the competition stronger.

What keeps you involved?

For me the sport is all about families. It is what motivated me to start Demons Touch, the opportunity to play with my kids.

I have three children who all played, two of whom met their partners at Touch Football and are still heavily involved in the sport.

Friends of ours whose children played with us in the early days now have kids of their own who aren’t too far away from playing in our junior competition, so we're nearly reaching three generations.

Demons Touch have always tried new initiatives to attract more players and create a club atmosphere can you share what some of these initiatives have been?

Touch Footy is not front of mind in South Australia, so we’ve always had to think creatively on how to attract players.

In the early days I chaired a sporting club so got the footy (Aussie rules) and cricket teams involved, and as I said earlier we placed a strong emphasis on creating a club environment where people wanted to become a part of as opposed to forcing them.

More recently we’ve had some hurdles thrown at us. We had to move venues in 2015 after 20 years at our previous site. I approached the nearby Botanics Touch Club about sharing their venue which they accepted. They play Monday nights, we play Wednesday’s, and we work together to share venue costs; line-marking, storeroom space etc. which works well and I guess is a unique approach.

In 2016 we launched a junior competition which is one of a few dedicated junior competitions in the State and it continues to grow. The best part about this is seeing all the parents on the sidelines – free promotion right there!

We put on a free meal for our junior presentation night this year and 150 parents and children turned out. That’s the club atmosphere I talk about. It’s not about making money it’s about giving something back to the community.

We also tried to implement the TFA All Abilities program. My son Scott, who is a teacher, was driving this. Unfortunately, it was 38 degrees on the come and try day, so we had to postpone it, but we’ll try again.

One of the most enjoyable initiatives we implemented was a “premier league” type concept. We invited the winning social teams from all the metro affiliates around Adelaide to our ground and played each other. $100 in the pot and the winners took the kitty. It was a great concept that brought the community together, even if we did lose the final.

Nice, whilst we’re reminiscing, what are some of your fondest memories in the sport? 

Well one moment I still rub into my son Micheal today is our first season in 1995. I entered a team into the competition and so did Micheal who was a teenager at the time. Being full of kids they dominated the season, but we ended up playing them in the Grand Final and won. Wise old heads prevailed.

We have a perpetual trophy and plaques for the winner each season so every year I get to point to that plaque and remind Micheal of this moment much to his displeasure!

We used to take teams down to Mount Gambier in the late 90s as well which were always great trips. In fact, our shirts that we used on those tours are still our designs today in a nice nod to history.

You’ve been involved for a long time. What do you believe is the biggest advancement or improvement in the sport?

The attacking tactics for me, especially since the move to a 7-meter line. It’s opened the game up to be more scoring and at park level that is more engaging for participants. 

You’ve achieved a lot in the sport Bill. What’s your biggest achievement?

Honestly, I think lasting this long and the competition continuing to go from strength to strength. On a personal level, seeing my children become actively involved and meet their partners through the game is pretty cool.

Bill Sheeky

Finally, if you were to win the Bristol Paint Volunteer of the Year and a $5,000 prize towards a home renovation – what projects come to mind?

My place could do with a spruce up, so I’d like to apply the prize to this.  

As our volunteer of the Month, Bill is now eligible for the Bristol Paint TFA Volunteer of the Year (VOY) Award. The TFA VOY will receive paint to the value of $5,000 for a project of their choice, thanks to our friends at Bristol Paint.

DON’T FORGET  All Touch Footy participants are entitled to 15-20% OFF Bristol Paint products.  Download your exclusive discount card on our website, here.

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