For Stephen Lubke, a passion for the game and the mateship that comes along with it are what have kept him in football for more than a quarter of a century.
Lubke and Laura Ranger were nominated for honours at the 2020 NSW Community Sports Awards on Wednesday night.
Northern NSW Football nominated the pair for the awards with Lubke presented with a Distinguished Long Service award for more than 25 years of dedication to Northern Inland Football club Narrabri FC.
Ranger, president of Newcastle Football club Mayfield United, was one of four finalists nominated for the Community Sport Administrator award.
Lubke has been involved with the Narrabri football community for more than 30 years as a player, coach, mentor and committee member.
He has been instrumental in developing a strong competition in the area and has been the driving force behind senior football development including pathway opportunities for players.
Lubke is also involved with junior football through coaching, refereeing and helping out with anything else needed, from field marking to cooking barbecues.
He is highly passionate and well known for his support and service to football.
Lubke, who has been president of Narrabri FC for almost seven years, said he was overwhelmed by the honour.
“[I do it] for the passion of the game and to keep the game alive and the mateship you make with all the members in the team,” Lubke said.
“Yes it can be trying at times but the end result is well worth it.
“[What I love most about the club is] the respect and the relationship you have with everybody, parents, players, wives, girlfriends, the young and the old.”
The winners of the 2020 Community Sports Awards were announced and presentations of the Distinguished Long Service Awards took place on Wednesday night.
Nominations were sought across 10 categories, with more than 200 nominations submitted recognising community coaches, officials, administrators and organisations for their achievements and contributions over the last year.
More than 500,000 people across NSW voluntarily dedicate their time every year through their involvement in sporting clubs and organisations. The NSW Community Sports Awards recognise the outstanding achievements and contributions of this volunteer workforce as sport would not exist without them.
Sport NSW Chairperson Carolyn Campbell congratulated the finalists and winners and also paid tribute to the selfless work of volunteers who make community sport the best it can be.
“The army of sports volunteers in NSW are the lifeblood that keeps community sport going and we are delighted to recognise and acknowledge them for the hundreds of hours they have contributed over the past 12 months,” Campbell said.
“Despite a year where community sport has been interrupted because of coronavirus, sport remains at the heart of communities across NSW. Sport has a unique ability to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together.”