2017 Community Award Winners Announced

The Northern Football Federation (NFF) announced the winners of the 2017 NFF Community Awards in recognition of the amazing contribution volunteers within the football community make for the game.

The NFF Community Awards aim to recognise people across the Federations that make a difference to grassroots football within their local community – the people who have dedicated their time this year to develop tomorrow’s All Whites and Football Ferns while ensuring a safe and positive environment for thousands of players.

Nominations were received from each of the regions that make up the Federation highlighting the amazing work that has been done this season in our local communities.

NFF Chief Executive John Limna was impressed with quality of nominations that were received. “The number of excellent nomination we received show that the volunteers within our community are performing at the highest level. Backing up from last years Awards, we have received almost double the amount of nominations making the process a little tricky as so many of the nominations were in contention”.

Entries were judged by a panel made up of representatives from the NFF Board and Staff. Each winner will be contacted and be given the chance to have their award presented at a club prizegiving / ceremony of their choice.

NFF would like to congratulate all winners and thank all of those who put forward their nominations. The winners of each award, along with details of their work in football across the region, are listed below:

Northern Football Community Coach of the Year:

Short List:

  • Chris Clarke – Glen Eden United Sports Club
  • Emily Coe – Forrest Hill Milford
  • Gill Higgins – North Shore United

Winner: Gill Higgins – North Shore United

Gill Higgins has been a key figure in many of the young women coming through North Shore United. Gill is always positive and inclusive, and through her influence, she is helping these young women have learned to win with dignity and lose with grace.

Gill has found ways to ensure that North Shore United makes the right resources available to improve the girls’ skills and teamwork and has used the broader football network to find extra training for the squad goalkeepers.  Gill is described as a fantastic mentor and role model for the girls and makes football fun for all!

“After being promoted to a higher-level football team, I was feeling the pressure of expectation and not really enjoying my football over the last few seasons.  This year I re-joined the NSU team coached by Gill Higgins and her positive approach and encouragement has meant that I’ve regained a lot of self-confidence and am very much enjoying my connection with the team and love for football” if this is what football is like then I will definitely keep playing (Sophie Morrison, NSU Player).

Northern Football Federation Volunteer of the Year:

Short List:

  • Tina Rebers – Waitemata FC
  • Robbie Hodge – Hibiscus Coast
  • Thomas Epstein – Norwest United

Winner: Thomas Epstein – Norwest United

Thom has been the Junior co-ordinator at Norwest for several years. Each year with the dawning of a new season, he spends hours putting the youngsters into teams, and organising their coaches and managers.  He also manages to find time to coach his step-son’s team and assist those players who are finding the game challenging.

Thom has a patience and an organisational ability that has kept the juniors of the club in good stead, whilst also having a full time job, and playing for a senior over 35 team.

His passion for the sport and the time that he spends completing thankless tasks in administration is amazing.  He also has a calming effect on the parents, and a motivational charm for those youngsters who are struggling.

Northern Football Federation Outstanding Contribution to Football:

Short List:

  • Matt Rowe – Mangawhai Football Club
  • Graham Routledge – Waitakere City FC
  • Bernard Luiten – Onerahi Football Club

Winner: Matt Rowe – Mangawhai Football Club

Matt has been the driving force behind the Mangawhai football club joining forces with Northern Football. He has spent endless hours organising, researching, planning , mowing and marking out pitches, and so much more in helping the Mangawhai club form and become a contender for NFF.

Beyond this he has spent endless hours of his own time and money organising reports for our local council, Sport Northland, NFF and the Mangawhai Domain Committee in order for the Mangawhai Football Club to have grounds to play on and going forward a building to become clubrooms. He has spent time and achieved grants from local organisations in order to begin this process . He also plays and coaches. He is a man with passion and vision.


For more information on the 2017 NFF Community Awards please contact NFF Marketing Communications Manager Mike Hadnett