Netball’s community volunteers have been recognised for their contribution to the sport with Netball New Zealand announcing this year’s Cadbury Volunteer of the Year award winners.
Clare Malthus, Ruth Robinson, Andrea Cousins, Alani and Samara McLeod, and Shanan Gray were presented with their awards at the opening test of the Cadbury Netball Series for the Constellation Cup at Spark Arena in Auckland – honoured for their dedication to ensuring grassroots netball continues to thrive in their region.
Hard working and a pure love of the game head the tributes for Dunedin’s Clare Malthus (South Zone) who was named the Cadbury Volunteer Administrator of the Year – no job too big or small for the netball enthusiast who has given 20 years to Dunedin Netball’s board.
Malthus sits on various sub committees, readily available to provide significant support and advice on legal and HR matters. She has also supported the board chair in the mammoth undertaking of re-writing the Dunedin Netball constitution on two occasions.
But she can also be found sorting kit bags and uniforms for various representative teams and is a well accomplished manager – her methodical planning and attention to detail benefitting teams including Otago and Dunedin National Provincial sides (2009-2014), Columba Senior A and NZ Secondary Schools (2011-2012) along with the Southern Steel squad (2013-2015). She has also managed St Hilda’s A team for three years since 2019 and the University Albion A team this year.
Her Centre colleagues describe Malthus as someone who has the ability to pre-empt the needs of others and works away in the background to ensure those around her have all they need to perform – no matter the task.
Hamilton’s Ruth Robinson is another who has lent her skills to numerous jobs in the Waikato-BOP Zone, her multi-tasking earning her the Cadbury Volunteer Official of the Year award.
Robinson has been at the forefront during the past few seasons, a time impacted heavily by Covid, but also helping to implement new systems for the Hamilton Centre whilst also being an invaluable mentor to many volunteers and umpires.
She has played a key role in shaping the culture at the Centre over the past four years, as a board member but particularly with her roles in the Umpire Leadership Team.
Robinson also stepped up during the last two challenging seasons, impacted by Covid, filling various roles to help ensure the Centre ran smoothly despite a number of restrictions.
Another volunteer who has been generous with her time to help others was recognised with the Cadbury Volunteer Coach of the Year award, Christchurch coach Andrea Cousins getting the nod.
Cousins guided the Christchurch Netball Centre’s U18 Red team to the national title in challenging conditions in Christchurch earlier this year.
Members of the Centre’s victorious age-group team described their coach as someone “who has such a netball head” and “speaks a different language while she’s explaining something but it makes complete sense”. Cousins’ “extremely supportive” coaching culture has been recognised by her peers and those who have been guided by her.
She guided the Lincoln University team to Christchurch’s premier club title, attended the Centre’s summer development camp to work with both players and coaches on upskilling, and is working towards her New Zealand Performance Coach Qualification (PCQ).
There was no separating the winners of the Cadbury Volunteer Youth category with Gisborne twin sisters Alani and Samara being presented with the U21 award – the 16-year-olds contribution to the Gisborne Netball Centre Youth Activation Group (YAG) outstanding.
The duo are highly regarded in the Waikato-BOP Zone as key drivers in the youth space, both heavily involved with the Youth Activation Group (since its inception in 2020) and the Netball New Zealand Leaders Programme. Alani and Samara have both achieved their Silver and Gold awards in the Activation Pathway and the Coaching Pathway.
Giving their time to a sport they love is never an issue for the young sisters who have been instrumental in delivering new events in the Gisborne area – leading the way in promoting and managing tournaments, all while juggling school and part-time job commitments.
Another volunteer to dedicate their spare time to netball has been the Cadbury Netball Community Champion of the Year, Shanan Gray from the Gisborne Netball Centre (Waikato-BOP Zone).
Gray has been a board member since 2020, regularly umpired at a high level (the only male umpire to control premier games), worked alongside administrators to ensure the smooth running of Saturday club netball, and been a strong advocate for men’s and school netball in the Te Tairawhiti/Gisborne area.
Described as a netballer who “lives and breathes the game”, Gray comes from a small community (60km out of Gisborne) and regularly travels to umpire. His own experience ensures that he is a voice for those living rurally to receive similar netball playing opportunities.
2022 Volunteer of the Year Awards - Winners
Administrator: Clare Malthus (South Zone)
Official: Ruth Robinson (Waikato-BOP Zone)
Coach: Andrea Cousins (Mainland Zone)
Youth: Alani and Samara McLeod (Waikato-BOP Zone)
Community Champion: Shanan Gray (Waikato-BOP Zone)
Coach: Rachel Browne-Cole (Northern Zone)
Community Champion: Aroha Marsh (Central Zone)
Official: Jodie Robertson (Central Zone)
Youth: Samuel Paton (South Zone)