After 37 years of hard work, dedication and service to the world game, well respected and admired Football volunteer Debbie Crawford has decided to call it a day with her beloved Thirroul Junior Soccer Club.
To achieve over 37 years of volunteer work in our sport is an amazing achievement in itself and one the 69-year-old was honoured in doing as a Canteen Coordinator and Registrar and it was all thanks to her sons who fell in love with the game that brought Crawford to her second home, namely Thomas Gibson Park.
“When my eldest son turned 7, we decided to sign him up to the Thirroul Junior Soccer Club and I was working full-time but always believed that if you have kids and enter them into sport, you need to contribute to that sport in some way,” Debbie Crawford stated to Football NSW.
“I volunteered in the canteen and ended up running it every Saturday and Sunday mornings since then for the past 37 years along with being registrar also.”
Volunteers are known as the heartbeat of any football club and Crawford exemplified that plus an array of other qualities that saw her contribute weekly as the star attraction of Thirroul Junior Soccer Club stated the many positives she experienced whilst doing her duties.
“There are so many positives I can tell you about being a volunteer and what it did for me.
“Lifelong friendships that will be with me forever is certainly a major one. I’ve seen a lot of different people on our committee and in turn made more friends from that.
“We hosted trivia nights, balls, social evenings, special events, fundraisers to deck out the new canteen (many years ago), the list goes on.
“I’ve so enjoyed meeting the new parents to the club each year with their 4–5-year-old kids. They just want answers and that is what has kept me going, the smiles on the little ones faces when they hold a ball and get their special uniform is quite simply priceless.
“Most parents are so appreciative, and I love helping them find a friend for their team and keeping the older children enjoy this great game.
“I spent many many hours at the start of the season ensuring our MiniRoos got at least one of their nominated friends in their team. Generally, they get more than one friend, but it is such a juggling game when new kids sign up and want to play with that same friend. I think I can count on one hand the only times we haven’t been able to achieve a happy team.”
There were of course a number of key achievements and moments Debbie endured throughout her time with the Football South Coast club that will live long in her memory now that she’s bided farewell the sport as a volunteer.
“I’m quite honoured to be a life member and have been one for a very long time at the club.
“I achieved setting up and installing the fixtures in our new canteen about 20 years ago and it is still the same fixtures today.
“I have been awarded several awards at our own club over the years such as the ‘Junior Club Person of the Year’ and I did receive a Football South Coast ‘Volunteer Award’ at a local function in 2016 which was presented to me by FSC Life Member David Swan. I was so blown away with the club nominating me for this award.
“The biggest achievement for me has been every year as registrar, setting up the system, ensuring payments are done, photos are correct, everything is submitted on time and in a smooth fashion and then the kids being told their teams and then finally hitting the field. Yes, it is hours and hours of work, but I enjoy doing all this at home and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I ran the canteen for roughly 9-10 years and the remainder of my 37 years in the club has been as registrar.”
With the game crying out for more volunteers, Debbie was hopeful that more parents would show interest especially after two interrupted Covid seasons with 2022 tipped to see many more participants return the beautiful game.
“It’s no secret that attracting new volunteers to the game has been a problem across the state. It’s been a real problem even at our club, we struggle with the younger generation putting up their hand hence our committee is generally people who have had more than 20 years’ experience at the club.
“Generally, we get volunteer coach/managers as we advise them if they don’t find a volunteer, the team cannot run.
“I wish I had a magic wand to answer this question, but I don’t. We as a committee just continue to ask parents to help so hopefully we will see more join in 2022.”
It certainly will be a different year when grassroots football returns in 2022 for Debbie who hinted that the free time she will finally inherit will be spent still watching the game but spending quality time with her family and friends.
“Now I will be spending more time on the weekend watching my granddaughters play football.
“They joined Fernhill for the first time in U6 and U8s but with my commitment on Saturdays, I only got to see a few of their games.
“I will also spend some more quality time with my partner and maybe some extra holidays in Australia only until things settle down.
“My eldest grandson loves basketball so maybe I will get to watch him play as well and the other grandkids are also keen on football and dance. I am sure they will fill my weekends.”
Congrats on a wonderful innings Debbie, the game owes a lot to you, we cannot thank you enough for what you have done servicing the game and your beloved club Thirroul Junior Soccer Club.