When it comes to sport in our community, former Test great Ricky Ponting is a poster boy for aspiring young athletes.
Introduced to cricket as a young lad at the Mowbray Cricket Club, Ponting impressed crowds with his phenomenal batting ability, racking up century after century at both club and state level.
During the cooler months, he would swap bat for ball, lacing up his boots for the North Launceston Football Club.
His AFL ambitions came to an abrupt end while playing in the under-17s competition as a 13-year-old when he broke his right arm. He hung up his boots soon after that.
Determined not to let injury stop his aspirations, at 17 he made his first-class debut, becoming the youngest Tasmanian to play in a Sheffield Shield match.
And now the former Australian captain added another notch to his belt by partnering with The Examiner as a special guest of this year’s Junior Sport Awards.
While he will share his journey from junior ranks to the highest level at the awards presentation evening later this year, Ponting will also put his name to an award to recognise the valued contribution of volunteers in junior sport.
Without volunteers, many young athletes would not have the opportunity to play their chosen sport – and many organisations would struggle to operate.
Whether that be through umpiring a netball match, coaching a soccer team, driving the team bus or tacking a pony up for the arena, volunteers contributed almost $640 million to the Tasmanian economy in 2013.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ General Social Survey, Australia, 2014, there were 5.8 million people in Australia (31 per cent) who had volunteered over the past 12 months.
The most common type of organisations that people volunteered for were sport and physical recreation organisations (31 per cent).
The highest rates of volunteering were for young people aged 15-17 years (42 per cent), those aged 35-44 years (39 per cent) and older people aged 65-74 years (35 per cent).
To nominate one of Northern Tasmania’s valued volunteers, visit www.examiner.com.au.
And while you’re at it, why not nominate an aspiring young athlete or junior sports team – who knows, they may well be the region’s next Ricky Ponting.