CELEBRATING CLUB VOLUNTEERS
Ian Howard has been involved with football in the Goulburn Valley for more than 60 years.
From his time as a player with the Kyabram Boys Club and Kyabram to his coaching at Lancaster, as well as ventures into umpiring, administration and tribunal work, Howard has given plenty to the sporting community in this region, and was recognised for his efforts recently with life membership of the Goulburn Valley League.
‘‘It was very surprising to say the least,’’ he said.
‘‘I wasn’t expecting it on the night, but over the years that I have been involved in football it has been a very enjoyable part of my life.
‘‘I was very humbled, but very proud to accept the life membership.’’
Howard was certainly no slouch in his playing days, appearing 16 times at VFL level for Footscray in 1960 and winning the club’s best first-year player award that season.
‘‘I got six Brownlow votes in that season, which I thought was quite an achievement for a 20-year-old,’’ he said.
‘‘I was very proud and my teammate John Schultz won the Brownlow that year, so that was great as well, he was one of the nicest guys I ever played football with.’’
But it is his achievements outside of the playing arena that earned him life membership, as well as recognition at AFL Goulburn Murray’s volunteer breakfast last week.
Howard, 76, formed an umpiring group in Kyabram after officiating for the Goulburn Valley Umpires Association, focusing on guiding players in the local school competitions, as well as the lower levels of the Kyabram District and GV football leagues.
After a stint in Melbourne, Howard then became involved in the tribunals of the district before serving on the GVL board in the 2000s.
Howard is AFL Goulburn Murray’s tribunal secretary, but has dabbled in interleague team management and is involved in the Deakin Reserve management committee.
The long list of positions Howard has held can be traced back to his motivation to give back to, and help grow, the sporting landscape in the area.
‘‘It’s putting something back into football that I enjoy the most,’’ he said.
‘‘I think putting back into a sport as a volunteer you can sit back and see the enjoyment the sport provides, particularly the junior side of it.’’
The friendships Howard has made over the years also stand out as special to him when analysing why he still puts his hand up every year.
‘‘Meeting people who are involved through the sporting world and making lasting friendships are important,’’ he said.
Howard said volunteers were integral to the running of sport anywhere and he would continue to help where he could, but like most people in his position does not chase recognition.
‘‘I think that throughout the football and netball world in the Goulburn Valley volunteers play a major part,’’ he said.
‘‘Without volunteers it makes it very, very difficult for sport to prosper and at grassroots level it’s very important.
‘‘While I’m upright I’ll try and volunteer, I just enjoy giving back and watching the enjoyment of others.’’