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

For most clubs, it can be difficult to find someone to mark the fields but at Westside Touch in Melbourne’s western suburbs, thanks to the tireless work of John Haenga, it’s always done on time and with a smile! John is one of those selfless, down to earth guys that are the lifeblood of a local sporting organisation. He has volunteered at Westside Touch in almost every capacity – President, coach, referee and administrator just to name a few.

John is passionate about growing Touch Football in the community and ensuring the sport is available to all. Whether it’s referring, mentoring others, or assisting with training and game day, John is always lending a helping hand.

As our Bristol Volunteer of the Month for February, we spoke with John about his involvement in the game, what’s kept him motivated to stay involved throughout the years and what he loves about the sport of Touch Football.

Congratulations John, can you tell us how you became involved in Touch Football?

I first got involved playing Touch Football about 8 years ago at Westside Touch. After a few years of being involved in just a playing capacity, I was approached to join the committee which I was happy to do. It was great to increase my involvement and learn the ins and outs of a Touch Football club. I’m also responsible for the field line marking and coaching the U10s so my involvement has grown a lot since I first started but I love it! 

What do you enjoy/love the most about Touch Football?

I still love what got me involved – playing! It’s a great sport to play as it has a little bit of everything to offer. From a personal point of view, I love the challenge of continually improving my fitness and skills and then having the chance to incorporate them into what the team is trying to achieve. It’s hugely rewarding when an aspect of the game you’ve been working on comes off and you can share that with your teammates.

I also love the joy and happiness the game brings to others. Being a coach of a junior team, it’s great to see firsthand how much fun they have playing and the friendships they make. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge of the sport with the kids. The coaches at Westside Touch are making a real effort to teach the kids the fundamentals of the game the right way. When the kids pick up the tricks of the trade that is also great to see.

You wear many hats? What element do you enjoy the most?

This might be surprising to some but I love doing the line marking – I’d do it every day if I could! The lawnmower goes through the fields on Sundays and I go out after to  string it out and get painting. It’s very therapeutic. (We’re sure they’ll be plenty of affiliates willing to offer you a role John!)

I’ve also really enjoyed taking on the responsibility of President. I’ve enjoyed engaging with the teams and local community to develop and grow the sport. This has been my first season as President and it’s been a huge learning curve. I haven’t always got it right, but thanks to the support from the committee, participants and teams we’ve got the desired result and we’re ready to get stuck into again next season!

What is your favourite memory or moment in the game? 

Again, I’ll go back to the basics of the sport and it’s got to be scoring tries! I’m usually more of a facilitator so when I get the chance to cross the line, I make sure I enjoy it! 

What have been the biggest advancements in the sport in your opinion?

The rule change requiring defenders to be 7m back from the ruck has sped up the game immensely. It’s allowed the attacking team to exploit offside defenders and open up the game. It’s allowed for far more strategy in attack which has been great.

Congratulations again John on receiving the Bristol Volunteer of the Month. We appreciate your contribution and dedication to our sport.

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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