Working in cancer research by day, Eva Orlowski-Oliver accidentally discovered her love for soccer while filling in on a work indoor team.
Last year, she took home the Knox Women in Sport Leadership Award for her contribution to Bayswater Strikers Soccer Club as a three-time league championship and two-time cup championship player while holding the position of secretary for over a decade.
Council is inviting nominations in the Knox Sport and Leisure Awards, celebrating volunteers in our local clubs.
Eva’s role included applying for numerous successful grants for upgrades at their home turf of Guy Turner Reserve. Council’s upgrades form part of broader plans to deliver high-quality training and match facilities, improve player safety and encourage greater participation in sport.
Eva hopes her award will inspire other females to take up sport and leadership roles.
"With the momentum of the Matildas and all the support that women in sport are receiving, hopefully we can expand," she says.
"The club actually started with four women’s teams and they were the predominant gender before it switched over at some point in time.
"You can’t be what you can’t see is very powerful, and I think the momentum is coming from the Matildas and the AFL Women’s the more it’s played and the more it’s broadcast.
"That’s what’s getting the women back involved and realising, hey, I can do this. I often speak about it at work; I always mention that I’m playing soccer."
Bayswater Strikers also had two volunteers recognised for Years of Service in last year’s awards: Mark Murphy and Denise Van Egmond, the latter whose family started the club back in 1996.
"Social league clubs like ours cannot run unless volunteers put their hands up, from committee members to ground staff," Eva says. "It takes so many bodies to get games going. We always try to have the mentality in our club that it’s everyone’s responsibility.
"I volunteered because I wanted to give back to the club that gave so much to me: friendship, mental and physical health and, always, a laugh. I don’t think volunteers do it for the recognition but it is really appreciated when received."
Nominations are open in the categories of Club of the Year, Best Club Initiated Program, Club Person of the Year (Adult and Junior), Women in Sport Leadership and Years of Service.
The Club of the Year will receive a $1000 cash prize and other category winners will receive $500.
Nominations close midday on 4 March and winners are announced on 19 June.
Find out more at knox.vic.gov.au/sportawards