NNSWF announces Local Champion Awards for September 2023

Northern NSW Football is thrilled to announce the recipients of its Local Champion Awards for September 2023.   

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.  

Coach of the Month  
Ben Kunovic 

Ben coaches one of the boy’s teams at North Companions FC. He has made an immense impact on his team, the Tamworth Community, and the sport of football.  Ben’s dedication to excellence is evident in every training session, every motivational speech and every game the boys have played under his guidance. 

He has not only shaped his side as skilled athletes but also instilled in them the values of teamwork, discipline and perseverance. Ben’s coaching ability extends far beyond the technical aspects of the sport, understanding every player’s strengths, weaknesses and ambitions. He has transformed the side into a cohesive unit, enabling them to achieve great victories and overcome challenges. 

Ben’s mentorship of his team has shaped them into better players and better people, which all of the parents are grateful for.  

Player of the Month  
Amy O’Brien 

Amy has played at Kempsey Saints Football Club and played football at elite levels in NSW for many years. She also been a mentor and coach within the club, helping to give back to the local football community.

Her presence on the field can be best described as respectful, energetic and organised. Amy is an asset to not only her club but to all of female football. She has been involved with community and charity fundraisers with the women’s side of the club. 

Amy has such enthusiasm for female football and the youth within the club. She has made herself available to help junior coaches deliver sessions . 

Amy sets the standard and is admired by all within the Kempsey football community.  

Referee of the Month  
Jasper Hughes 

Jasper is a first year referee with Newcastle Football, and has made immense strides in a short time. The 13-year-old has refereed 32 matches and was selected to assist in the final series for 2023. 

On the day of one of the grand finals, a referee became unavailable and Jasper put his hand up to be an assistant referee for an All Age D Grade fixture. Jasper demonstrated a lot of courage and confidence while refereeing matches throughout the grand final weekend and is truly inspiring to all aspiring referees. 

Jasper is a bright and friendly young man and Newcastle Football are eager to watch him develop as a referee in the years to come.  

Volunteer of the Month  
Phillip Innes 

Phil has been the heart of Bolwarra Lorn Junior SC for over 20 years. He is dedicated to the club as president and also helps with marking lines, refereeing junior games, setting up fields, organising team gear and everything in between. Phil is at the ground multiple days a week making sure that all club members have access when needed and he always has a smile on his face. 

Phil has been a much-needed constant during a time of low volunteers and is committed to ensure every player has the best football experience. He is the perfect person to be recognised for his efforts.  

Team of the Month  
Kahibah FC Under-12s Girls 

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

This year the team moved up an age group into the under-12s for a challenge and have all continued to work hard to excel, which paid off as they won the grand final. 

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

Club of the Month  
Tuncurry Forster FC

Tuncurry Forster FC are continuing to evolve as a club, having gained level one accreditation in the Football Australia national Club Changer program. This year they have also hosted NPL Women’s NNSW matches, held three NPL NNSW preseason days, NNSWF Newcastle Permanent Primary School Gala Day and Talent Support Program days at their club facilities.

As part of the Club Changer program the club were selected to send representatives to be flag bearers at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023ᵀᴹ quarter final match between England and Columbia. The club have also participated in the Newcastle Jets Half-Time Heroes and Matildas Little Lap of Legends. 

Tuncurry Forster FC have helped to raise over $1,000 for their club charity Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

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 Ben, Amy, Jasper and Phillip as well as clubs like Kahibah FC and Tuncurry Forster 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 NNSWF Local Champion Awards winners for September. We wish them all the very best for the rest of the 2023 season.”  

Monthly award winners are also nominated for the annual Local Champion Awards in October.