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

You will be hard pressed to find a more humble member of the Touch Football community than Chris Tarlinton or Tarlo as he is more affectionally known. Although Chris has a Touch Football resume that would be the envy of most (Australian Emus representative, Director of ACT Raiders Women’s Touch, Tuggeranong Vikings Coach of the Year… just to name a few!), it’s clear the driving force behind his involvement in the sport is the joy it brings to others. For fifteen years, Tarlo has been helping introduce and develop players in the ACT Touch Football community. From sharing his extensive knowledge of the game, to driving the bus to events, Chris’s involvement is comprehensive and invaluable.

As our Bristol Volunteer of the Month for April, we spoke to Chris about his journey in the sport, his efforts to attract and support new players and some of his favourite memories along the way.

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

My Touch Football journey started in school when my mates and I got a team together in the local comp. I played socially for a few years, even playing in a team with my old man, brother, neighbours and a few friends from school which was good fun.

My involvement ramped up when I went to Uni and went away to my first Uni games. It was the first time I’d really been coached on the skills and tactics of the sport, and it planted the idea of playing at a higher level. From there I became involved in the ACT Super League competition where I was fortunate enough to play against some Aussie opens squad members. With my experience at the Uni games and ACT Super League, I began thinking about the representative side of the game more, so I trialled for the Crusaders mixed team and was fortunate enough to get a call-up to the side. My involvement in the sport as a player just kept gradually progressing – initially I never thought my involvement would be anything more than playing a few social games a week, but I was fortunate enough to have a few doors open for me along the way.

In terms of my involvement in administrative and coaching, I’ve always been interested in sport, so I’ve always been keen to get involved. These days I still play a little bit but I’m much more involved in coaching and administration roles.

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

Tough to narrow this one down! 

Like any sport, there are so many benefits of being healthy, active, connecting with people and helping to build the community so that’s something I’ve always loved.

In regards to Touch specifically, I love that it is so inclusive. It’s pretty cool to be a part of a sport where entire families can play together at the same time. It’s a family goal of ours for all of us to be on the field together at one point in the next few years. It’s still a few years away as my kids are quite young so the pressure is on me and my wife to stay fit and capable until then!

I also love the people I’ve met. A lot of my best mates have come through my involvementThere’s been plenty of laughs and great moments along the way which I’m grateful for.

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

As mentioned above, my focused has shifted away from playing and more towards the coaching and administration side of the game which I’m really enjoying. I’ve loved the challenge of trying to get the best out of others, whether that’s on or off the field. Often when you’re playing, you’re thinking about your game and the impact you’re having, so the challenge of trying to get the best out of 14 others as a coach or to improve the club as an administrator, has been a great challenge.

I also love opening up the game to as many people as possible, whether that’s at local or representative level. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot out of Touch Football and I’m driven to provide those opportunities to others.

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What is your favourite memory or moment in the game?

There are plenty of moments as a player that come to mind, but I think seeing the joy and excitement of others playing the sport comes to mind. My daughter went away to the NSW Junior State Cup this year and to see her really enjoy the experience and make new friends was awesome. I’ve been fortunate enough to coach a number of teams over the years and to see the growth and development of those players has been a highlight.   

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

 The main one that comes to mind is the speed and skill of the current players. Like all ex-players, I like to think the game was quick and skilful when I was playing but the level in which the game is played at now is just amazing – It’s bloody good footy to watch.

Another advancement has been through the use and accessibility of technology which has had a big impact on the sport. Touch Football is now much more accessible for people, particularly those from other countries who can now flick on the broadcast and watch the Championships or the Trans-Tasman. To open up the sport to all these people who typically wouldn’t be at the event can only benefit the sport.

The other advancement that comes to mind is the way coaches communicate and behave which has been a good thing. There is a much greater importance placed on making sure everyone is safe, comfortable and respected. Coaches now look to embrace the differences within the team and look at how they can be utilised to benefit the group.

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Thanks Tarlo, and congratulations once again.

Chris is now eligible for the Bristol Volunteer of the Year Award.

To nominate a worthy individual, click here.

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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