Kristie Laird, photographer, secretary, manager and social media person for the Kiama Knights, has been recognised as a champion volunteer.
Last Sunday Rugby league legend Brad Fittler presented Kristie with two awards – the NSWRL Gordon Lowrie Volunteer of the Year and Volunteer of the Year, Greater Southern Region.
Kristie, a Birrahlee Baby born and bred in Kiama, lives and breathes Rugby League.
“My eldest son started playing in 2014 and back in those days I was manager of his team, helping out on game day where I could,” she says.
“Then I completed the LeagueSafe course and coaches’ course to help more on game day.
“In 2018 I decided to join the Committee. Registration numbers were starting to decline, and I wanted to help make sure we had a strong club for all kids to play with for years to come.
“It’s a real passion for me. My husband has been involved with the Knights since he was 4 – he’s moved into the senior ranks now, so I help out there – and both my sons (11 and 8) play.
“My weekends are pretty much spent at the football field, which my two boys just love.
“We get there Saturday morning, we set up, then I get involved in running games through the day.
“I sometimes duck off to watch the kids play at other fields. Then it’s back to pack up.
“When senior league plays on Sunday, I’m up there taking photos as well.”
As well as spending the weekend at the footy, Kristie has a fulltime job and works for a not-for-profit health organisation.
She says that being announced as overall winner was a huge honour.
“I was really delighted to be selected as winner of both awards.
“There are so many hard-working volunteers out there within our game doing a similar role.
“It does take a lot of effort and having a strong Committee is really important.
“I couldn’t do it without the support of our Committee – it’s a real team effort.”
There was a period this year where the Kiama Knights were not sure the season would go ahead.
“We did everything in our power to make sure the Club was ready to be able to take the field when the competition could start in July,” says Kristie.
“We had a bit of a hiccup with games deferred for one week. But by July 26 we were back on the field.
“I worked closely with club president Carl Middleton, to develop our COVID safety plan – quite a comprehensive 10 page document outlining everything from training, game day and general operations – and it was one of the first approved by NSWRL for the Group 7 area.”
When Brad ‘Freddy’ Fittler turned up at Chittick Oval on Sunday, he made a beeline for the field to kick a ball around with the kids.
Fittler, a Rugby League great who is head coach of the NSW State of Origin team and works as commentator and TV presenter, made the day for these kids, their parents, grandparents and onlookers.
“For me, it’s all about these kids and making sure we create a strong and positive club culture that people want to be part of,” Kristie says.
Her boys have the black and white on pretty much from the moment they wake up. No matter if they are playing or down at the skate club, they are always wearing Club colours.
“Even when the kids have their out-of-uniform day at school, you see Knights colours everywhere. It just makes me really proud to be part of the Club and part of the Committee.”