By Sam Watson

NOMINATIONS for the 2021 Worksafe AFL Victoria Country Volunteer of the Year Awards are now open.

To nominate a special volunteer, visit AFL Victoria’s Facebook page, follow the link on a recent post and submit the nomination form, which only takes a few minutes to complete.

AFL Victoria said the selected volunteer may have contributed to the completion of a major or significant project throughout their time or they may be someone who has contributed in a number of roles over a long period.

Dalyston president Andy Thomas said volunteers were the lifeblood of every club and community.

“Without volunteers, we cannot function,” Thomas said.

“In an age where there’s more and more accountability and regulation – some of it’s over the top – it’s increasingly harder to get things done.

“In our case, all we want is to get kids active and create a strong family environment, so we need anyone that has spare time to help make life easier for not only their own child but for everyone’s child.

“If everyone does a little bit, all of us get to enjoy the footy and netball for what it is, a healthy pastime and a few lessons in life to make a better-balanced society overall.”

Phillip Island president Chris Ross also shared Thomas’ sentiment about the crucial volunteers at football and netball clubs.

“To be honest, not one sporting club would survive without the help of volunteers,” Ross said.

“With a club the size of ours, we rely on somewhere between 60 and 80 volunteers each week for a number of roles.

“The jobs range from committee right down to the guy who puts our bins out every week.

“I’m so proud that we always have someone to call on to help out.”

In recent years, it seems more and more responsibility has been placed on less and less volunteers, and if the burden continues to grow, country football and netball will suffer a slow death.

At the start of August, Sport Australia released a new vision and plan to with the hope of revolutionising sport volunteering.

A report, released in conjunction with the plan, delved into the serious issues currently facing sporting clubs, which has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To read the report and plan, head to sportaus.gov.au/volunteering.