Annual 2023 Local Champion Award winners announced

Northern NSW Football was delighted to announce the annual winners of its 2023 Local Champion Awards on Saturday night.

The NNSWF Local Champion Awards are a monthly recognition of individuals and teams who make a difference across the football family as we thank them for their commitment to their club, team, community and football.

The annual award winners were chosen from recipients of the monthly awards across each of the six categories, with winners recognised in front of more than 400 people at NNSWF’s Van Egmond Jennings Awards night at Newcastle Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Coach of the Year
Matthew Morris

Matthew coaches at Medowie FC and is always out to help others, spending all of his spare time at the club coaching his under-15s and zone teams. When Matt is not coaching, he is helping other coaches or fulfilling his committee duties.

Matthew, the Coach of the Month for July, initiated the buddy program at his club for training this year, which sees a team from the younger age group training with his zone team each week. This initiative has been highly popular and is a fantastic way to connect the youth players with the senior players within the club.

Club of the Year
Swansea Football Club

Swansea FC were awarded the NNSWF Female Football Week Club of the Year in recognition of their contribution and commitment to female football. The Club of the Month of July have 579 registered players in the 2023 season with 41 per cent of players being female.

The club have excelled in promoting female football within the community, holding many come-and-try days to assist in the significant growth of female participation within the club.  Swansea FC now have female teams of all ages, from under-5s to All Age and over-30s, bringing their female participation up to 40.9 percent which they are incredibly proud of.   

The club committee also organised and held a sold out MiniRoos Gala Day to give kids an opportunity to play more football to complete season 2023.

Team of the Year
Kahibah FC Under-12s Girls

The Kahibah FC under-12s girls' team have finished the 2023 season undefeated for the sixth year straight.

The Team of the Month of September moved up an age group this year into the under-12s for a challenge and have all continued to work hard to excel. This move paid off, with the side winning the grand final. 

The parents of this team believe that this special group of girls are so unique as a unit, displaying a great bond, friendship, team spirit and encouragement for each other throughout each season. Every player knows that they have an important role to play on the field. 

Player of the Year
Tori Yates

Tori plays for Weston JFC in the juniors and is a selfless player and amazing support for her teammates.   

In a recent match, the Volunteer of the Month of June, Tori saw a fellow teammate struggling with anxiety and saw that her team on the field needed a midfielder to help them out.

Tori has grown so much throughout the season and told her coach to put her on in midfield and that she would give it everything she had so that her teammate could stay off.  She jumped in to play her most disliked position and played her heart out.

Volunteer of the Year
Kristy Ragno

Kristy is Tuncurry Forster FC’s president, secretary, canteen manager, amenities cleaner and everything in between.

The Volunteer of the Month of July, Kristy does a massive amount of work to keep the club running smoothly. Kristy had one of the goals for this season to bring the club back to feeling like a family, which the club believe she has done successfully. She has done an amazing job taking on a lot of pressure and doing a lot of organising to keep the club running smoothly. 

Tuncurry Forster FC feel very lucky to have Kristy as their president in 2023 and are glad that she is getting some well-deserved recognition.

Referee of the Year
Rod Menzies – NCF/FFNC (June)

Rod is a valued member of NNSWF’s referee organisations, being a part of North Coast Football Referees and Football Far North Coast Referees. He is described as a friendly and reliable referee across both zones.

The Referee of the Month of June, Rod like many referees is a former player who has now picked up the whistle after responding to the call out for more referees. He was a highly respected player and coach before taking up refereeing and has brought the same traits into being a match official.

Rod is a person of the highest integrity and is a positive influence on others within the football community. He delivers regardless of what role he has and when a tough decision is required.

Rod’s sound and impartial judgement is enhancing the ranks of local referees. NCF and FFNC are very fortunate to have a match official of his calibre on the books.

Northern NSW Football Community Football Manager Ross Hicks congratulated the recipients and thanked them for their contribution to football in northern NSW.

“Without people like Matthew, Rod, Kristy and Tori as well as clubs like Kahibah FC and Swansea FC we wouldn’t have a game. They make football what it is in our region,” Hicks said.

“It is their commitment to their clubs, teams and football community that make the game and improves the experience of playing football for the people around them.

“We thank them for their contribution and congratulate them on being named the inaugural NNSWF Local Champion Awards annual winners for 2023. We wish them all the very best for the 2024 season and beyond.”