St George Football Association side Oatley FC are all set to kick off more goals for the recommencement of the 2020 Community Football season and leading that charge have been two passionate and dedicated volunteers in Club Registrar Belinda Stanton and Club Secretary Antonella Cino.
The two have formed an inseparable bond and one that has certainly been highlighted by many at the club and around the association.
Not bad for a partnership that started from scratch, as the two never knew each other prior to entering their roles, which has seen them develop from strangers to close friends and work colleagues working towards one common objective, ensuring their participants were happy and ready for the new season.
Asked where their love first started with the sport, both knew they had football in their veins thanks to family members.
“I love any live sport particularly community sport,” said Stanton.
“I am not a footballer myself, but I am in awe of the players at our club and love watching the games.
“There are many people who come to Renown to watch the games.
“My husband and children play Football as well. We are so lucky that our club has a real community spirit and feel and people love hanging around and socializing.
“My dad was obsessed with all things football,” said Cino
“He’d wake me up at all hours of the night with his cheering and screaming at the TV especially during any World Cup tournament.
“I couldn’t help but join in and developed a love for the game.
“I have 3 sons that play in 3 different clubs as they all want to play with friends, as long as they enjoy playing, I don’t mind where they play.”
One of Stanton’s main duties at the club is to ensure everyone is registered and understandably, she has been working around the clock ensuring all Oatley FC players were ready to kick-off once more post COVID-19 restrictions.
“That is right, I look after the 800+ registrations of players and RTOs. Helping to organize teams, submit teams and grade to the association and ensure that I get every player on the field at the start of the season.
“I also create the posts for Facebook, organize trial games and gala days. We have a great committee with various roles that I am certainly no expert in.
“I work closely with Antonella, she knows everything and works so hard, I couldn’t do this job without her.”
Cino’s duties have also hit fever pitch as the season draws closer amongst the many other jobs she continues to do for her beloved club.
“I do just about everything.
“We have a great committee that help out with any jobs that need to be done.
“I’ve been doing the Secretary role for 5 years and helped out with registrar role (when we didn’t have one) and treasurer role (when we didn’t have one) as well as helping out with everything from gear, social events to helping getting our club incorporated.
“When Belinda took on the registrar role, my life became so much easier, she’s helped with everything and I couldn’t continue without her.”
With over 125 volunteers including Age Coordinators, Coaches, Managers, Sponsors and Committee Members, both ladies agreed the important role they all played with the running of the club.
“It is pretty cliché but without them the club would be nothing, it would be disorganized and with no thought of future growth.
“The volunteers are the lifeblood of our club. They are always trying to improve processes and amenities at our club.
“Our club President and Treasurer have been successful in setting up a new club house, finding new grounds and grants to allow our club to grow.
“We have coaches who mentor and develop Advanced Programs.
“The coordinators of the sponsorship, IT, grounds, training, equipment, apparel are key to the success of game day. We have a Female Football Coordinator who represents our huge female membership in the association.
“Oatley FC has the largest female representation in the whole association. We have a social events coordinator who really knows how to give the club a well-deserved party at the end of the year,” said Stanton.
Cino echoed Stanton’s thoughts on the positive impact volunteers played at the club.
“Volunteers are essential, without them we wouldn’t have a club. From our volunteer coaches and managers to everyone on our committee, we just would not be able to play without them.
“Fourteen years ago, before my kids started playing, I had no idea about community sport and all the hard work Volunteers put in just so our kids (and adults) can play. We have a great club with so many beautiful people that make us want to spend time at our home ground socializing with everyone.”
Stanton, who is in her third year as the Club’s registrar and Cino, who is now entering her thirteenth year as a volunteer, both agreed that the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic did wreak havoc with their everyday lives as the duo missed Oatley FC and their football fix.
“I missed the members of our club. We have great times at the fields and within our community, but that period of no football really got to me,” said Stanton.
“I love watching the game. I love seeing the achievements and successes of individuals and the whole team. We saw each other in Zoom sessions which was fun, but nothing beats the real thing.”
“It was greatly missed, said Cino
“I really enjoy seeing the parks full of kids enjoying their football and interacting with their peers.
“I also missed the socializing; football brings so many people together both on and off the field.”
Both well respected volunteers could not hide their excitement when news came through that Community Football was back on the table thanks to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
“It was an absolute relief and joy when I heard the news. Every time I heard someone or read something about football being cancelled for the year, I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to believe that the hundreds of hours that our volunteers had put in the setup of the season was set to go for nothing.
“When we could see plans being made to recommence the season, it definitely was a sigh of relief and enabled us to keep working towards our goal.
“We are very fortunate to have supportive and loyal members who did not give up on us or Football NSW and St George Football Association’s decision to recommence. Due to our members support we still have a ‘Oatley Football Club’,” said Stanton.
“I had mixed reactions, excited that the kids were able to start going back to regular exercise and enjoying sport again, but also overwhelmed knowing how much work was going to be involved in getting the club up and running again,” said Cino.
“We were all looking out for any bit of news about community sport, when it was finally given the green light, everyone was relieved and the whole committee came together to work on the Football NSW guidelines so our members could get back to training.”