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

There are many ways people can become involved in Touch Football but for Wendy Fiddaman, it was an unusual introduction. Sitting in her car on a cold Tasmanian day, watching her partner compete in an intrastate touch football competition when a knock on the window lead to years of fun, friendships and enough memories to last a lifetime.  

Wendy’s journey in Touch Football has required a rapid crash course in many aspects of the sport, a journey that she has found both difficult and rewarding, but ultimately one that has enabled her to make a lasting impact on the sport, particularly in South Australia and Tasmania. 

As our Bristol Volunteer of the Month for May, we spoketoWendy about herjourneyin thesport, her various roles andsome of herfavourite memories. 

P.S. whoever it was that knocked on Wendy’s car window that day – Thank you! Touch Football is in a better place for it!  

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

 I had a unique start to my Touch Football journey - I was sitting in my car watching my partner play in 1981 when one of the players from the women’s team came over, knocked on the car window and asked whether I had any shorts and runners on me as they had six players but needed seven (in 1981 Touch Footy was a 7-a-side game). So, I was thrown in the deep end, learning to play the game on the run but I enjoyed it so much that I kept playing for the rest of that season and just about every season since! 

In the mid 80’s I moved to South Australia and joined a local competition as a way of getting to know people. I quickly got involved in representative sides and from there, I was asked to coach the U16 girls’ team which I did. I really enjoyed the coaching experience, so I continued to grow my involvement in that space through coaching juniors and seniors. 

A few years later, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work for Touch SA as a development officer where I helped create events. Through that role I was able to develop more skills and participate in a number of refereeing and coaching courses. I eventually moved back to Tasmania where I continued to be involved in the sport.  

Looking back on my time in the sport I think my involvement sort of grew out of opportunities and the skills I had at the time. I continue to play and coach – I’ve had so many positive experiences so it felt natural to give back to help the sport prosper. 

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

Playing! The fact I can still play is such a joy (although I now describe my playing style as sophisticated chasey – I have to think about what I’m doing but I get to run around with the ball). What I’ve really loved over the years is being able to play the sport with my family. I first played mixed with my husband and brother, whilst recently having the opportunity to play with my two boys and my daughter. One of my sons loved it so much that he’s now really involved in the coaching and refereeing side of things which is great. I’m still fortunate enough to play with my daughter in a mixed and women’s team which I thoroughly enjoy.  

In addition to playing, the community is such that you develop really good friendships over the years. Being in a smaller state, you really get to know the people involved in the sport, so it becomes one big community which is really supportive. 

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

As I mentioned above, it’s still the playing side that I love but outside of that, I’ve really enjoyed the coaching and refereeing aspects of the sport. They have taught me a lot about the game which has really helped me to develop my skills and make me a well-rounded Touchie.  

Being on the board at Southern Touch has also been a great challenge. Like all of Australia, we are one of many sports here in Tasmania, so we need to make sure we are strong advocate to ensure it keeps growing and has a strong footprint in the state.  

More generally I’ve really enjoyed seeing the joy others have gained from being a part of the sport. The aim of volunteering is to take pressure off others so they can enjoy the game and seeing that come to fruition is a real joy.  

What is your favourite memory or moment in the game? 

As the coach of the South Australian U16s girls’ side, we had a move which we focused on and practiced before the DoorDash National Youth Championships.  Before the first game we did a visualisation exercise (I think the girls thought I was crazy) and they went out there and executed it perfectly and scored! The joy on their faces was unbelievable and I think it was a moment they realised their potential and they all continued to grow from there. 

The memories I have of playing with my family are also really strong. To hear “Mum I’m on your right” or “Mum I’m on your left” was bizarre at first but fantastic. We now have all the ‘remember when’ memories of someone scoring or setting someone up to score which is great to look back on. 

Finally, for people that know me they know I don’t believe in diving – it puts you out of the game. However, I remember diving once in a national tournament and shocking myself so that is something that’s stayed with me. Fortunately, I got up with all bones and limbs intact! 

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

I think the rule changes over the years have been a great way to ensure the game keeps evolving. From reducing the players from seven to six, increasing the defensive line to 7m and not allowing the acting half to score, they’ve all contributed to creating more challenges within the game. It’s kept the sport in a place that’s always challenging players, coaching and referees.  

Finally, the reach and exposure have improved dramatically. Everyone is seeing more of Touch Football on social media and broadcast platforms which is a good thing. Putting the sport in front of people has been a really important aspect of the sport growing.  

Congratulations Wendy and thanks again for your commitment and passion for our sport. 

Wendy is now eligible for the Volunteer of the Year award. To recognise volunteers from your community please click here 


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