A pair of south-west junior football coaches were judged as two of the best in Victoria at the AFL Victoria Community Football Awards on Friday night.
Timboon Demons’ Laura Hickey was named the Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year, while College Magpies mentor Todd O’Sullivan took home the David Parkin Junior Coach of the Year Award.
Hickey, a first-year coach of the Demons’ youth girls, said she drew inspiration from Searle and her cousin Melissa Hickey who played AFL Women’s for Melbourne and now Geelong.
She said she hoped her efforts would inspire other female players, coaches and officials to be a part of football.
"One thing I can say is get involved," she said.
"I encourage any girls to get out there and have a go and take it on.
"If we can get more local teams around this district, because with the current league there is a lot of travel up to Horsham and Hamilton, it is going to be really good for us this area.
"And some girls don't want to be involved in netball and footy is a great opportunity to stay involved in sport.
"It is inspiring to see someone like that who can really step up and take it on.”
O’Sullivan, a former Caramut senior coach who now mentors the Hamilton-based College Magpies, said his award was not something he set out to achieve.
The former Mininera and District league medallist, who thanked the club and family for their support, said he saw the award being a bi-product of him achieving another goal.
"My main aim was to get all of the kids involved and give them a go as well as to team them by passing on some of more footy knowledge," he said.
"There was a hell of a lot of a difference in ability, so it was about giving them all a go and trying to improve their football.
"It was also about helping them off the field with social stuff as well, which a few needed some help in, it was not all about football that is for sure."
Koroit under 18.5 coach Ben van de Camp was also nominated for an award on the night.