Sports awards: Surprise award for work with juniors

Sandy Graham has been given a Sport New Zealand local sport maker award for her services to the...
Sandy Graham has been given a Sport New Zealand local sport maker award for her services to the Dunedin Technical football club. Photo by Gregor Richardson.

For Sandy Gorman, encouraging children to have fun is more important than pushing them to win.

Gorman (52) was presented with a Sport New Zealand local sport maker award by Sport Otago at De Carle Park in Dunedin this week for her services to football.

The awards, in conjunction with Lotto NZ, recognise volunteers who "make sport happen'' in Otago communities.

Gorman has been involved with the Dunedin Technical club since 2007 after she moved to the city from Calgary, Canada, in 2003.

In that time, she has coached junior sides, organised social events and fundraisers, sat on the club's senior committee and acted as the junior co-ordinator.

She took up the role of women's liaison officer this year, a position established to promote women's football.

Gorman managed to continue playing until last season, finishing up at Tech after first playing for Roslyn-Wakari.

She was presented with the award on Wednesday and had no idea it was coming.

"I was really humbled because I'm not in this for awards.

"I'm very passionate about football and I'm passionate about kids playing and learning about football.

"It's a game you can play for almost a lifetime.''

Gorman began coaching in 2007 when her son and daughter, aged 4 and 6 at the time, wanted to play football.

She had a wealth of football knowledge and also had experience in coaching children through more than a decade's involvement with a children's camp in Calgary, where she was assistant director for a time.

She took a junior mixed side through the grades from 2007 until last year, before taking over a 12th grade girls' team.

"The main thing for me is to have fun.

"I'm not so much the ‘win at all costs' person. I'm more the ‘give it 100% on the field' person.

"If you win, great, but if you don't, at least you know you've given it your best shot and had fun, which is what the game's all about.''

Gorman was also passionate about promoting women's football and enjoyed the family atmosphere at Tech.

She was particularly proud the club involved players from all levels at the weekly player of the day awards.

"I'm not sure any other club does that.

"One of the things that's quite special is the older and senior players have a chance to really recognise and support these little ones.

"The young kids are just thrilled when they get to shake the hands of the older players and talk to them.''

Sport Otago sport development adviser Jason Wadsworth said Gorman had been selfless in giving so much of her time to the club.

"Having volunteers like Sandy is what makes our community a great place to live in and it's wonderful that they have been recognised for their efforts by their peers.

"Without volunteers, sport in Otago just wouldn't happen.''

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