Over 35 years of loyal service to his Club; a champion of female participation and referee development. Today, on International Volunteers Day, we are thrilled to announce Barry Poulsen of Ashburton Soccer Club has been awarded Football Victoria’s Volunteer of the Year.
Barry started with Ashburton Soccer Club over 35 years ago, initially as a coach for his daughter's team and now remains as the Club's Referee Coordinator, managing a large group of Miniroo and Futsal referees.
Barry has been a life member since 1990 and his support of the Club has been unwavering. He was heavily involved with the AWSC and a champion of female participation; coaching and training referees; and involved in the Women's Club committee.
Barry helped the Club set up a Futsal competition in 1994 which continues in Ashburton to this day.
Barry was also involved as Chairman of Victorian Soccer Federation.
Barry contributes every weekend during the winter season. You’ll find him bright and early at Warner Reserve, supervising and managing the referees – and throughout summer for Futsal. He hosts annual training to ensure the Club always has young referees available for matches and has trained referees who have gone on to referee at State Level.
Barry has supported Ashburton United Soccer Club in all its forms since 1984 – the club’s longest serving volunteer. He is at the Club rain, hail or shine each Saturday and Sunday morning during winter making sure his referees know the laws of the game, are respected and are respectful of the game.
Barry has a great rapport with the young referees, gives them the opportunity to learn and stay involved in the game as other than players. He teaches them responsibility and to be leaders on the field.
Barry regularly participates in all Club events, supporting the Club in a very unassuming way. He has a great understanding and appreciation of the Club’s history and what it means to the community. In turn, he has become very important to the fabric of the Club, celebrating his 80th birthday with the Miniroos on a match day in June 2018.
FV Interim CEO, Kimon Taliadoros honoured Barry’s incredible contribution to Victorian football.
“Barry is one of the great treasures of Victorian football, not just because of the longevity of his service, but the breadth of it over many decades. The growth of football has long rested on the shoulders of volunteers like Barry, who committed themselves from those early days, to create the opportunities that we enjoy today. There's no possible way we could ever repay the debt of so many years of unwavering dedication to his Club and to our sport but we hope this recognition goes part of the way to showing Barry our collective appreciation."
While very proud to receive this recognition, Barry's real pride comes from the incredible growth football has achieved during his time as a player, coach and administrator.
"I have been at the Club for over 35 years and we were a small Club in the beginning. It's just been extraordinary how it has escalated. All the primary schools around here, the top sport is now soccer. The promotion through the Matildas and the Socceroos has been tremendous."
"I've received so many awards over the years, but this one is a highlight. It's recognition of longevity in sporting management."
"Coming from Football Victoria, which I've had a long association with, this award will sit on my mantlepiece in the right position."
Barry was shortlisted for the award following the nomination by his Club during National Volunteer Week earlier this year, and determined the winner by an independent panel of judges: Sonia Vignjevic, Victorian Director Settlement Services International; Ralph Barba, Director Making Media and Matthew Shawcross, Principal Sacred Heart Fitzroy Primary School.
We'd like to send a big thank you to Ashburton United Soccer Club for nominating Barry and allowing us to share his incredible story with our community.
We also want to recognise the tremendous work that our other finalists – Gunther Prislan, Michael Sposato, Lyn Toll and Maria Caruso – continue to provide in service to their Clubs and congratulate them on their achievements in the community.
Without volunteers, football stops.
Across our state, thousands of volunteers devote their time and efforts to our beautiful game. They provide a friendly, welcoming face at the gates. They arrive before anyone else to prepare the canteen for a stampede of hungry footballers. They give up their time and expertise on committees to ensure their Club thrives. There is endless administration, training and mentoring. On any match day, they are the first to arrive and the last to leave. The work can often be thankless or unnoticed – but without it, Clubs cannot function.
FV would like to acknowledge all of the volunteers serving the Victorian football community. Your diverse contributions and support at your Clubs have a direct impact on so many Victorians. We thank you wholeheartedly for helping more Victorians to live and love football, for life.