By Tayla Kershaw

IT has been a long year since Sophie Bolding was named Bass Coast’s Young Citizen of the Year.

That hasn’t stopped her from continuing to progress women’s sport in the local community.

She was recognised for her contribution to women’s football, having played for the Bass Coast Breakers and becoming a role model within the club and despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, she has continued to inspire others to reach their potential.

Sophie Bolding (front, far right) was considered a local hero in the sporting community when she was named the 2020 Bass Coast Young Citizen of the Year. She is pictured with Bass Coast Breakers teammates, back from left, Bianca Hellmuth-Pask, Grace Matser, Marnie Szikla, Nat Marshall, Jayne Ellen, Ella Cargill, Lucy Caldwell, Emma Jackson, front, Tayla Tatterson, Gab Bastick, Tori Ryan, Ella Angarane, Tess Angarane and Jessica Bolding.

“(My involvement) changed quite a bit this year,” she said.

“We were feeling optimistic about the season ahead last year. We recruited a lot of new and old players at the Bass Coast Breakers.

“However, as we know, COVID-19 brought uncertainty about whether a season would happen. Whilst we waited for confirmation, we continued to do short, half hour Zoom trainings all involving simple drills you could do by yourself with a football.”

The Breakers also developed the idea of the “quarantine-ni” games to add spark to quarantine life.

“We split up players into five teams and had weekly challenges such as team Tik Tok videos and trick shot nominations to encourage a fun team environment virtually,” Sophie said.

“We got to go back to some training sessions again during winter before the second wave where we had COVID-Safe protocols, which included the requirement of a COVID-Safe officer and regiment cleaning measures to keep everyone safe.”

While they were able to train, the Breakers combined with the Dalyston Youth Girls football team.

This allowed more girls to improve their basic kicking and ball handling skills, as they were unable to do contact training.

The team managed to finish off the year with a fun softball inspired game called “Diamond Footy”.

“The past year has truly made me feel appreciative of those opportunities I get to have around people and enabling other women to thrive in the football environment,” Sophie said.

As the Young Citizen of the Year, Sophie was honoured to attend the 2020 Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony.

Not long afterward, the world was struck by Covid-19 and she began to live her life from home.

“Fortunately, I’ve continued to work from home, and was able to attend and speak at several online citizenship ceremonies to welcome our new Australian citizens,” Sophie said.

“On Remembrance Day, I was also invited to lay a wreath on the behalf of Bass Coast Shire Council at our local ceremony, in which one of the main tributes involved my family’s representation in Australia’s war history.

“Although COVID-19 cancelled several events, I still feel honoured to have been involved in the community. Being named Young Citizen of the Year has brought many different opportunities and I look forward to what the new year will bring.”

Sophie plans to continue her involvement with the Breakers as an assistant coach and encourage the Youth Girls to stay active in the football community.

“We’ve made significant relationships with a number of Youth Girls clubs in the area,” she said.

“I’m also currently training with the Hawthorn VFLW team and awaiting confirmation of when our season will begin.”

Sophie praised the state and federal governments for the COVID-Safe measures that allowed people to stay active.

“Council, in partnership with GippSport, will be able to run a series of casual pop-up sporting opportunities across the area for free throughout January – how cool is that?” she said.

“Local sporting clubs – such as our Bass Coast Women’s Football Club – are also welcoming new players with open arms. Everyone is feeling happy, excited, and appreciative of the opportunity to be around people and be active again. So, team up with a friend, relative or your partner and go challenge yourself to try something new this year.”

To the soon-to-be-named 2021 Young Citizen of the Year, Sophie encourages them to take every opportunity that comes their way.

“You only live once. You get to meet so many wonderful people and being Young Citizen of the Year is a great way to build your own confidence and be involved in our local community,” she said.