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15 September 2021
The entire September 15, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
By DEAN LAWSON
Passionate Horsham District football and netball advocate Fred Mellington will step away from league administrative responsibilities after two decades of continuous service.
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Mr Mellington’s decision to depart from the league board coincides with Wimmera Mallee Coaches Association presenting him with a 2021 Distinguished Service Award.
After receiving his award, the figurehead, who as chairman has had the tough job of leading Horsham District league through the COVID-19 pandemic, said he felt quite humble.
“When you’re born in the Mallee this is the sort of thing you just do – volunteer and help in any way you can,” he said.
“In growing up in Yaapeet if you were born with one arm you ran the boundary, if you were born with one leg you worked on the scoreboard and if you were born with one eye, you were the goal umpire,” he laughed.
“The one option you didn’t have was to do nothing.”
Mr Mellington confirmed he was standing down as both chairman and from administrative duties after 20 consecutive years on the management board.
He said his motivation had been a strong belief that community team sport was integral to the health and vibrancy of regional communities.
“I really don’t have the words to describe just how important football, netball and club and team sport in general is to small towns and their people,” he said.
“It is an environment where everyone is equal, where the only difference between everyone involved is the
colour of your jumper or skirt.
“I can’t express enough about the implicit value of team sport to our children, our juniors, in teaching them life skills they don’t even know they are learning.
“By simply being involved in a team environment, children learn to depend on and support each other, trust in each other, learn to lose as well as win – everything we use as adults in life.
“Those skills spread into the wider community and help drive us and it is this value that becomes glaringly obvious when coping with the situation we’ve had in the past two years.”
Mr Mellington said he would let others judge how well he did his job representing Horsham District league.
“I know personally what I’ve achieved and what I’m particularly proud of,” he said.
Mr Mellington’s first move when joining the league was to push for every club to have an opportunity to host finals and he was also a key figure in working towards securing a league naming-rights sponsorship.
Perhaps his most profound advocacy came in 2009, when he lobbied parliamentarians against hikes in water rates for sporting reserves that he believed had the potential to cripple clubs.
“I wrote to every politician I could think of and had responses from seven,” he said.
“To cut a long story short, a 2000 percent increase in costs not only didn’t go ahead but costs were eventually less than before what was being proposed.
“It’s also a pretty poorly kept secret about how much I have loved interleague footy.”