EVERY Saturday is a family affair for Stawell Warriors Football and Netball Club secretary Toni Stewart and she would not have it any other way.
“I would be so bored without it,” she said. “I just love the social aspect of going down to the club and seeing familiar faces each week.”
Stewart grew up in Stawell but spent her junior years playing netball at the Swifts, before changing her alliances after marrying her husband Ian. Since then she has become an invaluable member of the club on, and more recently, off the court.
In 2007 she was made a life member of the club and now that her playing days are behind her she most enjoys coaching juniors.
“I wouldn’t mind doing less of the administration side of things but somebody has to do it,” she joked. “I’ve been at the club long enough to see junior players come through the ranks who now form the core of our senior teams. That’s one of the big reasons I stopped playing, because there was so many players coming through that deserved an opportunity.”
She also continues to enjoy seeing her family involved at the club.
As a past player and life member, Ian often helps as a time keeper while sons Koby, Brody and Liam are also busy at the club on Saturdays.
Koby runs around in the senior football side while Liam continues to enjoy playing in the under-17s.
Brody’s playing days are behind him but he helps out the reserves as a trainer.
Warriors president Debbie Bach said clubs would not exist without people like Stewart.
“Having that support is just so important,” she said.
“Those sorts of people make clubs what they are.”
Bach said Stewart had always been involved in some way or another off the court.
“Toni has done so much work,” she said.
“She was a real driving force behind the our girls football team this season. What she did for that team was so important.”
Stewart was the team’s manager in its inaugural season. She said she had not known what to expect when the idea of a girls team and league was first floated.
“I just know we wanted to give it a go,” she said. “There are a lot of girls that don’t play netball or can’t fit into the teams we have. It was a chance to provide another opportunity for people to be involved.”
The side won two of its seven games in the first season of the Female Football League but the excitement level remains high for a second season. “It’s been really great to be a part of it and to be able to watch it all come together,” she said.
Stewart said she would encourage more people to be involved in volunteering roles at their clubs.
“It’s the best way to get to know people and feel involved in everything,” she said. “Everyone is really friendly but they are just so busy most of the time. I loved playing, and I certainly miss playing, but I really enjoy just helping out in any way that I can. You get out what you put in and I’ll continue to be involved well into the future.”