Many tributes were paid to outgoing Chairman Of The Board, Jeff Walker, at the recent Southland Football AGM as he was farewelled after a contribution to the administration of the sport that began in 1998. Walker stood down at the meeting as Nick Hamlin took over as the incoming Chairman.
Walker, originally a player from the Old Boys club, became chairman of the Southland Football Association (SFA) men’s committee in 1999.
In the ensuing years he presided over restructuring at both national and local level, the delivery of events such as the pre-U17 World Cup game between New Zealand and Paraguay at Rugby Park, Invercargill and the Southland Football Centenary celebrations.
Another highlight was the construction of the all-weather playing area complemented by the converting of the City Council Pavilion into the home of Southland Football – the ILT Football Centre – with administration, training and game day facilities at Turnbull Thomson Park.
Walker and former All White Ken Cresswell received the Muriel Mathieson Trophy for their contribution to Football in the Community in 2011, an award Jeff had also received in 2001 for his work to create the Football South and Southland Football structures.
Nick Hamlin was confirmed to replace Walker at the AGM. Hamlin began playing at the age of 5 and played representative football all through school. After a few years off he put the boots back on when he was about 20, then played through to 40 before hanging them up. Hamlin was involved with the Waihopai club for “near on 15 years” and held the President’s role for 3 years as well as coaching and Committee roles over the years.
“I still remember the old black rugby boots I was allowed to borrow when I was 5 like it was yesterday. I’ve always had football at heart and it’s been a big part of my life. I’m very honoured to take up this position in Southland and I have big shoes to fill with all the work Jeff has done over many, many years,” he said.
“I obviously have a passion for football and Southland having been also involved with other local sports – so the opportunity to lead the sport into the future is very exciting for me. I bring to this role in excess of 20 years in Management and Directors roles including my current role as an Independent Board Member to Motorsport NZ as well as managing director of my own local consultancy company.
It is going to be a challenging year for any sport in NZ with the pandemic causing chaos and stress to people’s lives but the Board and Management team are confident we will get some football in this year and allow people to get back out and doing the things they love in a safe and family focused manner.”