Gympie Cats President Ann-Marie Warren has been named the 2022 Queensland Sport Volunteer of the Year.
The award was announced at the annual Queensland Sport Awards & Hall of Fame Presentation, held on Wednesday night at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Since coming into the role of the club’s first female President in 2019, Ann-Marie has guided them through some of their toughest times, including navigating the impacts of COVID in 2020, 2021 and 2022, as well as this year’s severe weather events.
The Cats’ home ground, Ray Warren Oval at Six Mile, just south of Gympie’s CBD, was inundated by flood waters in January, March, and May.
Their fields, club house and change rooms were substantially damaged and at one point in time, only the tips of goal posts were visible above the flood waters.
Under Ann-Marie’s leadership, the Cats faced down this adversity and ensured footy played on. She led clean-up efforts to ensure the Cats maintained all their AFL programs this season.
She worked diligently with AFL Queensland on emergency relief measures, garnered the support of club players, members and sponsors to help with the clean-up and still managed to field teams from NAB AFL Auskick through to their seniors.
Not just once, but three times.
The club finished off a turbulent year with a visit from the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Cup while it was enroute to the MCG, where the Geelong Cats beat Sydney Swans on 24 September.
Head of AFL Queensland Trisha Squires said Ann-Marie was extremely deserving of Volunteer of the Year.
“Volunteers are the heart of our clubs and footy clubs are such an important part of many local communities, but they can’t run without volunteers like Ann-Marie who put their blood, sweat and tears into making sure the players have somewhere to go week in and week out,” she said.
“The way Ann-Marie was able to rally her herd of cats and lead them through the past few years of COVID and this year’s floods is inspiring.
“Community football in Queensland is booming with record participation numbers across several competitions but it would not be possible without volunteers like Ann-Marie.
“Thank you for all you do for your club, the might Gympie Cats, and community football in general.”
Other nominations included, the 2022 Toyota AFL Final between the Brisbane Lions and Richmond Tigers for Queensland Sport Event of the Year, Brisbane Lions’ Emily Bates for Sports Star of the Year and Trisha Squires, Head of AFL Queensland for Administrator of the Year.
It’s been a landmark year for Australian football in Queensland, which has seen record participation of more than 58,000 registered participants from NAB AFL Auskick through to junior, youth and senior community club football. A surge in popularity in football for women and girls has been a driving force behind the game’s growth.
A big reason behind the success and growth of the game is people like Ann-Marie, who give so much.