If you want to know what a great sports volunteer looks like, then all we need is a picture of 12-year-old Piper Phelan.
Piper is a talented Palm Beach Currumbin Lions AFL player who last year represented the Gold Coast Sunsets Under 14 team at the State Championships. However Piper excels off the field as much as on. If there is a job to do, Piper’s hand is in the air.
She mentors the younger players and is a water carrier and runs the boundary for any of the club teams who need help. At home games she puts in endless hours in the canteen, works in the uniform shop and is often seen vacuuming out the dressing rooms. She is also often the unseen face behind the club mascot. Piper is the complete club-person, performing all of this with a smiling, happy disposition.
Jenny Webber, who has been involved with Gold Coast junior AFL for almost 30 years and is the current junior competitions manager, is well aware of the work Piper does.
“She is amazing,” says Jenny. “Most youngsters are happy to give their all on the field. Well Piper does a lot more than that. She is a gifted player who has won plenty of awards, but what she does off the field makes her a real star in my eyes.
“Jobs like vacuuming the player sheds is just plain hard work, but you will see her doing that time and again.
“We all know that sport cannot exist without volunteers – young and old. Sometimes it’s a real struggle to get enough volunteers to get all the jobs done. That’s why it is such a delight to have Piper as part of our sport.
“She lives and breathes what the perfect clubperson is. I am so glad she has won this award. She truly deserves it.”
Volunteering runs in Piper’s family. Both Mum Belinda and Dad Stephen are also long-time club volunteers.
Garry Goodman, CEO of award sponsors Eximm, said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ that the inaugural Junior Sports Volunteer of the Year award had gone to such a worthy recipient.
“Having a read through what Piper does makes me so proud for her and her parents, but also gives me a great deal of confidence in the next generation of sports administrators and volunteers,” he said.
“I think it is so important that the business community supports grassroots sport and especially our juniors. It’s not about creating sporting stars. It’s about giving young people the opportunity and confidence to grow into whoever they want to be. And the whole community benefits from that.”