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2023 netball volunteer award winners honoured

Without the large band of dedicated volunteers operating from all corners of New Zealand, who give their time, energy and passion, netball would struggle to function. We pay tribute to them all for the selfless contribution they make and acknowledge those who went above and beyond in 2023.

2023 Cadbury Volunteer Award winners

Volunteer Administrator of the Year
Natasha Lake

Dedicating approximately 300 hours a year, Natasha Lake is the heart and soul of netball in Central Otago.

President of the Central Otago Netball Centre, Lake’s involvement stretches far and wide, her underlying sentiment being to keep netball fun for all players, where her support for those playing in the D grade competition to those in the A grade remains unwavering. Everyone is important, and it is important to her that everyone gets to play and enjoy their netball.

Currently without an administrator, Lake has also assumed that role until a replacement is found, adding to her considerable workload.

Involved in all aspects of netball in the region, Lake is the first person at the netball courts in the morning, and the last to leave in the afternoon. And it’s a busy day where she remains thoroughly invested throughout – from umpiring (sometimes four games a day), mentoring young umpires, running the FutureFERNS programme, sorting out issues with spectators and running the office.

Nothing is too big or small for her attention and she does all this with a smile on her face, and just gets things done.

Lake also coaches a team that plays in the Upper Clutha competition on a Friday night, and umpires there as well, so volunteers across two netball Centres. This involves an hour each way travelling, after her normal work day, and late nights. Her attention to detail, support of others developing their own netball journey, be it playing, coaching or umpiring is inspirational.

She has a thorough knowledge of how things work in the netball world, with a relatively new netball committee this is essential, she is increasing everyone else’s knowledge all the time and she shares information constantly.  She genuinely cares about the other people involved in netball, her committee, umpires and the players.

Volunteer Official of the Year
Sue Robertson

As the Umpire Convenor for Whangarei Netball Centre, Sue Robertson has helped develop and inspire many to take up the whistle, investing her time, knowledge and expertise while providing maximum value.

Engaged at the Whangarei Centre for the competition months of March to August, Robertson commits to approximately 20 hours a week to all aspects of umpiring.

Her main role as umpire convenor is draw allocation and umpire coaching – allocating umpire coaches to umpires, organising the umpire coaches, running workshops and umpire coaching. She is on the ground on both Friday evenings and all day Saturday, runs (Northern) Zone theory workshops and offers her knowledge and skills to any group, club or school who would like a session on the basics.

Robertson’s knowledge and encouragement/support/loyalty to umpires is unquestionable.  Many credit her for their success – always freely giving of her time and knowledge and if she hadn’t believed in them they may not have pursued higher awards.

While in most cases Robertson has an umpiring hat on, she also believes in sharing that knowledge with players and coaches to help ensure they are getting the most from the game and continue to play, coach and grow.

Adding to her lengthy involvement, Robertson also sits on the Whangarei Netball Centre Board where the focus is to keep netball moving forward. Happy working behind the scenes without expectation of recognition other than seeing the growth in others, she epitomises the spirit of the volunteer.

Volunteer Coach of the Year
Kelly Wieczorek

Auckland Netball’s Kelly Wieczorek logged up over 400 hours of club coaching during 2023, her dedication and limitless enthusiasm showing no bounds as she effortlessly added other roles to an already hefty workload.

Besides coaching two teams at Premier and Senior A level, respectively, Wieczorek coached at representative level while also taking on the club committee role of Coach/Manager Liaison which often meant organsing late night training sessions not only for other teams but also the 17 or so other coaches at her club.

She provided advice, worked through problems, helped at all trials, spent a lot of time with the Junior Programme and was a vocal educator/advocate for the NetballSmart protocols.

Shy about receiving any recognition, Wieczorek often takes a back seat when her name is mentioned but is always first to champion others around her.

Wieczorek also volunteered her time for the Centre as an Auckland representative coach at the U16 level and then, because that wasn't enough, took on the "Cook’s" role for the U18 programme as well.

An open book, the community has benefited hugely from Wieczorek’s influence. She never holds back information, is open with her time and resources, and will spend many hours with anyone who needs help.

She loves mentoring other coaches, and during 2023 spent a lot of time learning more about committee duties, while also helping out on Saturdays and just getting stuck in where help was needed.

Going above and beyond, Wieczorek has funded those who are less fortunate, for example, paying for a rep player to attend tournament without her family knowing, and she often has extra gear that she pays for herself so her teams can be the best prepared.

She is huge on proper warm-ups and player welfare. Wieczorek is currently organising a "Club Netball Library" so other coaches can have easy access - she is hand-scanning all her resources which is quite a feat considering she doesn't stop learning. Wieczorek is a thoroughly selfless person who has added so much to so many.

Youth (U21) Volunteer of the Year
Jasmine Cox

Volunteering out of the Christchurch Netball Centre, school student Jasmine Cox has dedicated approximately 200 hours during the season for four years, as an assistant coach and club umpire to set an impressive example across the community.

She has assisted in organising club trials and generally umpires these, as well as being a runner for the selectors when not umpiring. Jasmine has always helped with club fundraising activities, plays and umpires for her school team both in Wednesday and Saturday competitions, assists on club registration day as well as with uniform distribution and collection at the start and end of the season.

The community has benefitted enormously from the time and commitment Jasmine has put into netball as a player, coach and umpire. She gives freely of her time and is always ready to put her hand up to do more if anyone asks.

Starting as a 14-year-old Jasmine has been doing this for the last four years where many of the club’s younger players have benefitted from her involvement in their training sessions as well as her hands-on role as an umpire.

Jasmine has been through the CNC Whistler programme gaining, bronze, silver and gold awards. She is held in high regard by the club where she gives so much of her time, even though she now plays netball for her school.

Respected and valued by everyone involved at the club, Jasmine, despite her youthful age, is integral to its smooth running, and her efforts and contribution are second to none.

Volunteer Champion of the Year
Noeline Fisher

In every sense of the word, Noeline Fisher is a true champion. She has contributed to Kapi Mana Netball Centre since its inception in the 1970s, being one of the original board and executive members, and is now one of the few remaining members to still be involved through her volunteer work.

Generous with her time, Fisher’s name and presence are synonymous with the Centre. The volunteer activities she undertakes today are more, or less, the same activities she undertook for the Centre 28 years ago in 1995.

Fisher gives many hours of service, a lot of her work going unnoticed as everything runs so smoothly and efficiently which is a credit to her organisational skills.

She remains the Saturday competition organiser/announcer where her involvement is generally  about 10 hours a week over the six-month competition season.

Fisher is responsible for manning the “tower” each Saturday, timing games and making announcements of teams and upcoming events. She ensures that all aspects of the Saturday competition run smoothly, pole pads are in place, the courts are tidy and the pavilion is clean. It is however, the extras that she does that makes her stand out as a special volunteer.

She is the kaitiaki of our trophies, caring for them and assigning them out each year. She brings in lunch each week so our umpires are fed. She treats our pavilion as she would her home, bringing her husband down to make repairs where she identifies problems. She supports our staff members, providing work advice, and when they were expecting their babies, knitting garments and even brought a bassinet into work so baby was comfortable.

Fisher undertook some Te Reo lessons, particularly so that she could pronounce team names accurately. She has developed a history book, so we don’t forget our whakapapa. 

Essentially, Fisher does the work of three volunteers, and does it because she cares about netball and deeply about the community.

Highly Commended
Martha Taru

Martha Taru’s volunteer work in netball spans countless hours, from coaching to selecting, and even leading her club as President. Martha's influence extends beyond the court, offering support and guidance to players of all ages. A highly commended community champion.

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