Pines senior premiership coach Paddy Swayn has capped off a memorable 2018 by being awarded the AFL Victoria Primary School Ambassador of the Year.
Swayn is a thoroughly deserving recipient, with his work with the Moorooduc Primary School setting a high standard in regard to junior participation in the sport.
Swayn, who received the award from AFL Victoria School Football Coordinator Laura Attard, said it felt great for both he and the school to be recognised in such a way.
“I’m rapt to win the award, everyone likes to be recognised for their efforts, but it’s more of a reflection on the whole school and how everyone has embraced the program,” a humble Swayn said.
“The school program (Moorooduc Football League) has helped introduce some new faces to football, faces that wouldn’t have been involved if not for their participation at school.
“Some girls who play at the school have gone on to play junior football and it’s nice to think that you may have had something to do with that.”
Over the last four years Swayn, the school’s PE teacher, has run the MFL, with games played between students at lunchtime on Tuesday and Friday of each week during term two of the school calendar.
The school’s population is 260 students and they have a six team competition, consisting of the Barak Bullfrogs, Loders Rd Lyrebirds, Males Rd Mavericks, Bungower Bunyips, Derril Rd Dingoes and the Goman Goannas – all named after roads that surround the school.
Each team has approximately 12 players on their list and they play AFL 9’s.
Teachers coach the teams and the presidents of each team are grade-six students.
Swayn gives up his private time two days a week to umpire the games, with students acting as live commentators and goal and boundary umpires.
The school has a home-and-away season and a final series, which includes a best-of-the-rest game between fifth and sixth on the ladder who play for the next year’s number one draft pick.
It has a leading goal-kicker award – The Goosey Medal – named after champion local full-forward Simon Goosey, and a Brownlow equivalent for best and fairest in the competition named ‘The Swaynlow’.
There is a Young Gun Award for the best grade-two rookie, and a draft camp is held at the start of the year where the new draftees do the beep test, 20-metre sprint, vertical leap and time trial before their draft day comes around.
Swayn said it was satisfying to see the time and effort put in by both staff and students pay off.
“If the teachers didn’t get behind it and do things like adjusting their timetables to suit, and the kids didn’t get involved, the whole thing would have fallen over,” he said.
“And we’ve had success as a school with the boys winning the school’s lightning premiership and the girls winning an AFL9’s competition ran by Melbourne.”
But Swayn said there were many more positives that can be taken away from the program.
“We all do it for the kids and we want to keep that emphasis on physical activity and continue to make sure it has a high profile at the school and it doesn’t drop off,” he said.
“Obviously there are the associated physical benefits, but just things like giving kids the chance to shine, when they might not shine in the classroom, and teaching them about team and resilience, things that sport is great at, is fantastic for the kids going forward.”
The Moorooduc Primary School will also benefit from Swayn’s award, earning $500 from AFL Victoria to spend on football equipment.