Those who’ve had the pleasure of coming across Greenacre Eagles and Central Sydney Wolves’ Ola El-Zahab would know how hard she continues to work as one of this state’s most dedicated volunteers in our game – she’s also a keen footballer herself playing at Punchbowl United, a genuine all-rounder of our beloved sport.
“I am currently involved with two clubs – I first started at Greenacre Eagles as a parent in 2013 and then the following year I become a manager for my sons team.
“As a parent, I also wanted my daughter to play and started an All Girls team in 2013 which I coached as we had no one at the club available in doing this.
“I have been at the Eagles for 7 years; the club has become a second home to me with all our participants now becoming part of my family.
“This season before COVID-19 halted football, I also took on a new role at the Central Sydney Wolves becoming the manager of the Premier League 1 and 2 teams.”
The 2017 Football NSW State Award winner plays a pivotal role in ensuring her teams are ready to play filling out team-sheets, working at the canteen, coaching, counselling players and assisting with so much more in the general running of both clubs, such is her passion for what she does and loves.
“Volunteers are the backbone of every club, they are the heart and soul of our communities, without the volunteers at these club we would not be the fastest growing sport,” were the words El-Zahab described how important volunteers were to our game.
The 39-year-old has lived and breathed football since she first knew about it as a youngster playing the game as well as watching her two older brothers who were also avid footballers.
“I can tell you that I have been involved in the sport almost my entire life at different levels.
“I started off as a player in my younger years but growing up with two older brothers, I fell in love with watching the game as a young girl.
“I remember being left out and was determined to show my brothers that girls can play football too.”
Ola’s obsession for the game seems to have rubbed off on the rest of her family as all four kids Osamah, Maysaa, Layla and Moustapha are all footballers like their mother.
“Correct I have four kids that play Football and they love the sport as much as I do.
“I am currently coaching three of them and managing one.
“My son Osamah plays for the Central Sydney Wolves while Maysaa, Layla and Moustapha play for Greenacre.
“We cannot forget that I too play for Punchbowl United.”
The sudden suspension of football due to COVID-19 has deeply affected the well-known volunteer but has used this time to communicate with her players, up-skill her coaching skills amongst many other things before the game returns.
“During this unfortunate COVID-19 break I have been in constant communication with my players, brushing up on my coaching skills, reading all the new referee rules and regulations for 2020 as well as having a few laughs with all the football challenges that have been sent to me by players.
“Working out with the kids at home while working on their football techniques and watching old football games on television have also been the new norm in our household.”
Football however is life for Ola and she, like many, are awaiting for the State Government to ease restrictions in allowing the beautiful game to return to the thousands of football pitches across NSW once more.
“With my life revolving around football, I find myself struggling without the sport.
“I miss my players, the parents, game day, I miss the kids smiles, the atmosphere of the game.
“I miss playing and all my team mates as well.
“I’ve gone from being at the park five days a week to nothing, it’s sad not seeing life at the park and the many parks across the state.
“I cannot wait to get back onto that football pitch as a player, coach and volunteer.”
If this isn’t enough dedication to the sport, Ola is also the Community Bid Champion for the #AsOne2023 bid for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, bravo Ola, keep up the fantastic work!
Football NSW is celebrating National Volunteer Week acknowledging the amazing and wonderful support our football family receives from our generous volunteers who continually dedicate their time in ensuring our game continues week to week.