After riding past the Fitzroy Football Club on a tram in 2011, David Barnes’ decision to hop off and check out the club is one he will always be thankful for.  Anna Pavlou reports.

Seeing the team train at Brunswick Oval for the first time, David’s passion for football and his beloved club has grown since that day.

Now spending his time as a dedicated volunteer for the VAFA Premier C club each weekend, David began his work at the club as a goal umpire for the Reserves.

“I thought I’d go down to have a look. I turned up early one day and Sharon who runs the place, asked if I could do the goal umpiring for the twos [Reserves] and I haven’t missed a game since,” said Barnes.

David, who was awarded the Fitzroy Football Club Volunteer of the Year award in 2014, says volunteering is hard work but ultimately satisfying.

“I’m always there. I do the barbeque with Kerry Winchester. We don’t get to watch much of the footy but it’s what you do.”

David recognises that it’s both the mateship forged and the magic of a football club that makes him want to come back each week to volunteer.

“It’s a special place and thing [to be involved in a football club]. It’s both the people and the place,” he said.

“I just enjoy doing it. I just love going down there.”

Fellow club member Kerry Winchester is another vital volunteer for the Fitzroy Football Club who has been around for 20 years, volunteering her time to cook sausages and cater for all manner of team functions.

Kerry, who is a Fitzroy FC Life Member, notes that volunteering has not only given her a place to belong, but a place where her family has been involved with since playing in Under 10s football.

“It [volunteering] is the only way I can give back. I love what Fitzroy has given me and my children, which is a place to belong.”

“It’s the longevity. It’s the supporters and it’s a lovely atmosphere,” she said.

Affectionally known as the ‘Queen of Brunswick Street Oval’, Kerry has learnt that being involved in a football club is a place that means more than just football.

“I thank them for giving me a home to go to every week,” she said.

“Clubs don’t run without volunteers. It’s all about the people, who do all those jobs that keeps the place running.”

Both David Barnes and Kerry Winchester are just two of the thousands of volunteers who give up their time and effort to keep their clubs alive.

As part of 2018 National Volunteer Week, AFL Victoria is encouraging the wider football community to thank their dedicated volunteers for their service to football and invaluable contribution to our great game.