The love for the world game certainly burns bright in the Gassman Family led by mother of four Melissa, as the entire household have felt that freedom of playing football once more with Sutherland Shire Football Association side Georges River FC.
The 45-year-old footballer and passionate volunteer who is renowned for also being the heart and soul of the club as the official Club Registrar, Publicity Officer as well as the Under 6’s and 7s Age Coordinator and Yearbook Editor was brimming with joy when restrictions were eased and Football returned to the parks across NSW once more.
“At first when I heard the news I was surprised.
“Part of me had given up on the season ever eventuating.
“So much work had already gone into getting 2020 off the ground but I had finally accepted that it was not going to happen.
“Then I was excited and have carried this on with the family ever since. We all play, my husband and four kids for the club, our weekends just got busier again but we love it and it’s what we do.
“I really missed watching the kids play during the lockdown period so having the game return was a blessing in disguise.
“There’s nothing like seeing your six-year-old do a cartwheel after her team scores a goal.
“I missed my teammates too. I play in a team with a lot of mums like myself, and game day is our day. Something we do just for ourselves, (away from the kids!).
“It’s great to see everyone back out there, getting active and socialising as well, albeit 1.5m apart.”
Currently in her eighth season on the Georges River FC committee, Gassman on top of her already full plate of duties, is also heavily involved with the club’s nursery program for 3 to 5-year old’s nurturing the next generation of stars at the club.
Asked how her love for the game first transpired, it was thanks to her parents as well as living across the road to a football pitch.
“I grew up across the road from Kirrawee Kangaroos FC. My entire family played for the club, my mum even played one season.
“Every weekend was spent watching or playing. My dad used to be the registrar up there. He warned me about the work involved, but I went ahead and signed up as registrar anyway.
“I started playing as soon as I was old enough which, at the time, was 10. The youngest division for girls when I was growing up was the W12s. I still remember how it felt turning up to trial with the boys and being turned away for being too young.
“I played until my early 20’s and made my comeback in my 40’s with Georges River FC.
“Not quite the player I used to be, but I think I love playing even more now.
“I also coach my daughter’s MiniRoos team which is a lot of fun. Things have changed in such a positive way for girls wanting to play football.
“My daughter started playing when she was four in the all-girl Under 6 league and 40% of our players are female. I’m sure things will change for the better even more now with the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup being held on home soil.
“I have always followed the English Premier League and many a late night / early morning is spent watching Aston Villa.”
A fully-fledged volunteer herself, Gassman further highlighted the important role volunteers played in the running of Community Sport across the state.
“Volunteers are everything. Few people realise how much goes into getting players on the park each week, season after season.
“We are like the football elves – we get in, get a heck of a lot done without many even noticing.
“Our club has a strong community spirit and we go above and beyond with events and activities (firecracker nights, comedy nights, an annual Queensland touring team, nursery squad, charity events, free intra-club summer football tournament) – these kind of things just wouldn’t happen without passionate, hard-working volunteers.
“This year we have 30 people on our committee, on top of all of our coaches and managers.
“We have a really great team at Georges River FC – we have a lot of laughs and get a lot done too.
“Our club is going from strength to strength and we are breaking records every year in both team and player numbers.
“The passion and dedication of our committee has had a very big part to play in this growth.”