Our inaugural grassroots sports awards reveal true heroes of Australian sport.
Inside Sport magazine and the Confederation of Australian Sport (CAS) are proud to announce the winners of the inaugural Clubbie Awards for 2015.
Inside Sport and CAS asked Australians: “What is it about your sports club that makes you so proud to wear their colours? What makes your mob special? Is yours the best sporting club in Australia? If so, we want to call you Australia’s Sporting Club Of The Year. And reward your club with a fabulous Hyundai iMax!” The judges’ decisions are in and the votes have been counted.
Congratulations to... Australia’s Best Club: Essendon Baseball Club (pictured above, photo by B. Malone Photography). Their trophy and grand prize was awarded on Saturday, November 21 at the Ultimate Sport Expo at Melbourne Showground. Club President Tony Cornish and a contingent of Essendon Committee members, players and coaches proudly received their award from Graem Sims, editor of Inside Sport. “From hundreds of entries, the judges’ decision on Australia’s Sports Club of the Year was tough – but we feel we have arrived at a very worthy winner," Sims said.
"Essendon Baseball Club has been active for more than a century. They currently have 430 players and members, ranging from ages 5 to 80. Their record of playing success at all levels of the game is phenomenal. “But that’s not just why they won this award. This club has a strong culture of developing their juniors. Plus, all senior players ‘pay to play’, no matter their playing credentials. This demonstrates their commitment to their club and each other. Most of the senior group now have partners and children that are active in the club, creating a family environment. The club’s remarkable camaraderie and support system has been highlighted with the recent tragic passing of Chris Lane, a young player representing Essendon in the US at college, randomly shot in the back as he went on a training run. The way the club has come together to support Chris Lane’s family has been inspirational. They now hold a memorial game in his honour and are currently working with council and Major League Baseball to create the only junior purpose-built field in Australia in Chris’ name.”
The Clubbie Awards were presented in six categories, all announced on Saturday. Entries were called for back in June – nominations required written statements of between 50 and 500 words addressing the criteria. A panel of five judges and a popular online vote then decided the winners. “I’ve been amazed at the support for these awards – we received hundreds and hundreds of entries, and these were supported by thousands of votes," Sims said. "The Clubbies awards really seemed to answer a desire in the sporting community to recognise the volunteers who keep grassroots sport alive in this country.”
OTHER RECIPIENTS OF CLUBBIE AWARDS ...
BEST COACH: Brad Crossingham, of Mount Isa
Brad Crossingham has an astonishing energy and passion for soccer development in North West Queensland and in Mount Isa especially. Besides working a 60-hour week, he volunteers countless hours: administrator, player, referee (when needed). Plus he is the coach of FOUR teams. Parkside Juniors U10/11’s, the U10's North West Queensland team (who travelled the whopping 920km this year from Mount Isa to Townsville to compete), plus the open women’s and men’s teams for the Isaroos Soccer Club (a club he helped found five years ago). Brad and his family give countless hours of volunteer time to the sport he loves. Brad won for his club a $1000 package of training equipment from Bownet, a revolutionary system of sports netting now kicking goals across the country.
BEST PLAYER: Elizabeth Pluimers, North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club
Last year, Elizabeth was the first person in surf life saving to achieve the Triple Crown by winning the Coolangatta Gold, Nutri Grain series and Australian Ironwoman Title during the one season. She also won Gold in the Open Board and Open Board Relay team at the Australian Championships that same year. She was a representative in both the Queensland and Australian teams. But that’s not why she won this award: during the season she has attended numerous Nipper clinics in Palm Cove, Cronulla, Bateman's Bay, New Zealand, North Cotesloe and North Burleigh, where she has been involved with their program for disabled children. Elizabeth has been an inspiration to all young Nippers and Juniors. She is also an Athlete Ambassador at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships. Elizabeth won for her club a $1000 package of swim equipment from Zoggs.
BEST SPORTING EDUCATION: Palm Beach Currumbin State High School
For 20 years, Palm Beach Currumbin State High School has delivered a world-class sporting curriculum across 12 sports (rugby league, girls' and boys' soccer and basketball, kayaking, netball, touch football, tennis, athletics, Australian football and surfing) covering both girls' and boys' sports for student athletes on the southern Gold Coast and northern NSW. The program has produced unrivalled numbers of national and international athletes whilst allowing them to maintain their academic rigour. The strength of the program lies in the resilience and humility that is developed in these young athletes whilst they realise their dream. Their prize: A package of 10 heart-rate monitors from Polar, worth more than $1000.
BEST CLUB STALWART: Brian McLoughlin, Tailem Bend Rowing Club
Brian has been the backbone of Tailem Rowing Club for 60 years and the President for 48 of them. He has seen floods wipe out the entire operation, but he knows how wonderful rowing can be for young people, so he is fighting for the club’s survival. He has spent the last six years fighting for a grant from the local shire council for a floating pontoon to launch the boats after the flood of 2009 washed away their river frontage. Now that is achieved, he is resurrecting the club’s competitive activity. At 83 years of age, he is still to be found selling pub raffle tickets every Friday night. Brian wins for his club a package of 10 Polar heart-rate monitors worth $1000. And a fabulous Clubbie trophy for their clubhouse.
BEST TEAM: Sydney University Cricket Club 2nd Grade
This team combines outstanding success on the field with the most vibrant and friendly social atmosphere in Australian sport. They are renowned for welcoming opposition teams to share a lemonade and a laugh after a match in the dressing rooms, plus they have been a fantastic breeding ground for the young stars of their club. Their prize: a $1000 package of cricket equipment from Cooper Cricket, handcrafted bats made right here in Australia.
ABOUT THE CLUBBIE AWARDS
Inside Sport magazine has been Australia’s premier all-sport publication for almost a quarter of a century. Its entertaining blend of in-depth profiles, ground-breaking investigations and superb photography have made it an icon of Australian publishing. Says Editor Graem Sims: “At Inside Sport, we admire our great champions – but we understand that Australia’s elite athletes’ success would never have been possible without the support provided by a volunteer army of weekend warriors who keep the engine of community sport ticking over. “It’s grassroots sport that is the heartbeat of all Australian communities, bringing people together in healthy competition, keeping them fit and active, building connections and friendships. And grassroots sport is driven by a legion of characters of all ages, shapes and sizes, abilities and disabilities. These ‘legends in their own backyards’ usually go unrecognised. Inside Sport, in partnership with the Confederation of Australian Sport – the peak body representing 90 sports in Australia – wanted to put that right. We wanted to find the truly unsung champions of Australian sport – and then reward their clubs with great prizes to improve their facilities.”