ONE of the district’s hardest working volunteers, Geoff McCraw, is in the running for a prestigious Victorian Government Community Sport and Recreation Award.
Foster Football Club nominated Geoff for an award in the ‘Service to Sport and Active Recreation’ category, and this week the club was thrilled to receive notification that he had been selected as a finalist. Geoff wins $1,000 as a finalist and if he wins his category will receive $3,000. He is also in the running for the prestigious Minister’s Award worth $5,000.
The winners will be announced at an award ceremony that Geoff and his wife, Shirley, will attend at the AFL Dining Room at the MCG on December 4.
“We are very excited to see Geoff getting recognition for his long years of exceptional volunteer service to the community,” said Foster Football Club secretary Dawn Allan.
Geoff has generously volunteered his time to a number of sporting clubs and recreational facilities over the years. He served as president of four local sporting clubs/associations, covering badminton, cricket and football. He has also diligently served two recreational facilities – the Yanakie Hall Committee (President 1972-1996) and the Foster Showgrounds Committee (member 1998-2013).
Geoff is a Life Member of four sporting organisations, the most recent conferred in 1992 by the Foster Football Club.
“For the last 20 years, Geoff has continued to defy his age, now 78, and tirelessly serves our football club,” said committee member Marilyn Flett. “Few people truly understand the extent of his involvement in the club which includes being a committee member, league delegate, chief potato peeler for Thursday night teas, dishwasher for catering events, cleaner after social functions, rubbish collector after football matches, goal umpire and timekeeper. Geoff maintains the football oval and grounds for the Foster Showgrounds Committee having prepared grounds for 15 league Grand Finals. Geoff works tirelessly behind the scenes with many of his activities quietly undertaken before or after football matches, social or fundraising events. Recognition of his amazing contribution to our sporting community is long overdue.”
Geoff’s nominees point out that the breadth, depth and longevity of his involvement with differing sporting clubs and organisations make his commitment to the local sporting community truly unique.
“His continued willingness to quietly serve in any capacity required is without peer. Geoff spent 20 years as team manager for junior country week cricket squads. He was a made a Life Member of the Lardner Badminton Club in his late 20s. He was a founding member and player at the Yanakie Badminton Club; donated his time to undertake the ground works to create and then maintain the Yanakie tennis courts; dedicated 26 years to the Fish Creek/Yanakie Cricket Club as President, Committee Member, Selector, Coach, Player and ultimately Life Member. He was also President, Vice President, Team Manager, Selector and Life Member of the South Gippsland Cricket Association. Most of these activities were undertaken while raising three children and milking 130 cows morning and night. Geoff’s contribution to the Foster Football Club have spanned all these dimensions – connecting with the young footballers, working tirelessly on ground maintenance, not too proud to work in the kitchen or clean the toilets/showers and providing leadership and setting an example for all.”
Dawn commented: “In a quiet way, Geoff sets the tone for our football club. He is the first to volunteer if a job needs doing or if someone needs help. Geoff regularly dedicates his time to support the community beyond the football field. He is a long time Salvation Army collector and has been involved with the Learning Assistance Program at the Foster Primary School. The contacts and goodwill Geoff has generated beyond the club mean that he is able to call on many local tradesmen and friends to assist the football club in its efforts. The Foster Showground facilities, operated by the local Shire, have highly limited funding. Without Geoff’s contribution to mowing, ground repairs, weed control, rubbish and general maintenance our facilities would not be close to their current standard of excellence. Our football team change rooms owe their cleanliness to Geoff and our fundraising efforts frequently owe their success to Geoff’s contributions in running the local pub raffle or setting up before, and cleaning up after, social functions. It is only now as we try to plan for the possibility that Geoff may one day slow down that we realise the enormity of his importance to our club.”
Marilyn added: “Geoff’s kindness of spirit and generosity of his time are evident in everything he does. His involvement through the years with badminton, tennis, cricket and football has meant that there are many people in the area, young and old, who know and have benefited from Geoff’s influence. When Geoff cleans up after football matches you can be sure there are a number of youngsters volunteering to help him. Geoff has a wonderful ability to communicate with the footballers of all ages and has always displayed a willingness to help them in all walks of life. A number of local teenagers regularly drop into Geoff’s place after school or on the weekends to see him. It is not unusual to see Geoff sitting in his car beside one of the young footballers helping to get their learner driver hours up. When Melbourne players need a place to stay on football weekends, their first choice is to stay with Geoff and Shirley, who provide country hospitality at its best, including a Melbourne-based player who won the league best and fairest two years running. New generations are now coming through the football club demonstrating the volunteer culture promoted by Geoff’s example.”