20 years of dedication from Ryan

It started washing jumpers at the Rockhampton Panthers 20 years ago, and it definitely did end there though.

Tina Ryan, the winner of this year’s AFL Queensland Outstanding Long Service to the Game Award, has pretty much filled every role in-between since that day.

Well, all but one.

“I think I did everything but be the president of the club. They actually asked me to be president but I was pregnant at the time, and thought no there is too many hormones in me at the moment, I cant deal with my hormones and the hormones of the football team as well,” Ryan joked.

From the canteen to head trainer, Ryan put her hand up time and time again for the betterment of the Panthers.

“I had three sons playing there. I was helping in the canteen and they had no one to do the first aid. I went and did a normal first aid certificate, and then went and did a sports medicine first aid, then a level one sports trainer course because the senior team didn’t have a trainer,” she said.

“My boys were getting older, so then I became the strapper. That was basically it, it was just an inevitable progression.”

Not helping out wasn’t a thought that ever crossed the mind of Ryan.

“It was just one of those things. Every club has its ups and down, and at that time we were going through a low spot, so there wasn’t a lot of help around. If something needed to be done, we just got it done anyway we could,” she said.

“I guess its just part of my nature not to say no to people. If they wanted a job done, I would always just put my hand up.”

It wasn’t considered a chore by any means. Football, and the Panthers are things Ryan is genuinely passionate about.

“I love it to death, just loved it to death. I think the fact that my sons were so much apart of it also made it a lot more enjoyable,” she said.

“My boys did all the rep stuff as well. It was my way of contributing. I went away with the rep teams and was their first aider, so it was my way of being involved in what they were doing.”

Always committed to growing the game, Ryan was also the inaugural sponsor of the clubs women’s team when it first stated.

“Female football is just going to grow and expand. The girls who participate in it absolutely love it, they can’t believe how good it is. It’s just going to expand the AFL experience.

“If I was a bit younger I would put the boots on myself and have a go.”

In all her time at the club, there are a couple of things that stand head and shoulders above the rest.

“Naturally, winning the premiership in 2007 was fantastic. We hadn’t won a grand final since the early 1990’s. We came to the club after they had won the grand final,” Ryan said.

“But also, watching my kids play, and watching them enjoy it so much and do so well at it, that was the best part of the job.”

While she might not have as big of an influence on match days as she once had, Ryan still makes sure the players are in good hands.

“I got too old to be running around after boys on the footy field so I had to replace myself. I went and got my certificate 4 in training and assessment, and started to teach the first aid and level 1 sports trainers courses to whoever want to do it,” she said.

“I don’t have the knowledge of a physio but I have lots of experience. I tried to put as much of that energy into the courses for everyone, and try and make it as challenging or interesting as possible for people.”

From bringing in the home cooked meals on a Thursday night, to strapping up the ankles on a Saturday morning, Ryan has put her heart and soul into the Rockhampton Football Club.

The Panthers wouldn’t be where they are without her. But she loves the club just as much as the club loves her.

“I don’t know what I would do in winter time without it, it’s certainly been a big part of our lives, and the whole family has been involved so it’s made it easier that’s for sure.”

By Andrew Wiles

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