Hard workers keep ship moving ahead
IN 2011, the city of Ipswich was named the world's most liveable mid-size city… and rightfully so.
Recognition on this scale is the direct result of positive and committed leadership.
Similarly, the Ipswich Touch Association is benefiting under the guidance and direction of its committee.
This point is reinforced by secretary Brad Smith being named as a finalist in the City of Ipswich Sports' Awards for official of the year.
However, the heart of an organisation can't exist without its soul.
Ipswich Touch Association president Ross Pedley performs that role.
Pedley, a primary school teacher at Brassall State School, began his association with the ITA in 1996 when he began refereeing.
With much effort and great diligence, he progressed to a Level 5 referee in 2006, became a Level 2 referee assessor and Level 1 coach.
During that 10-year period, Pedley also served a four-year stint as vice-president under the then-president Reg Hart, who stepped aside in 2007.
Pedley has held the reins since.
The Ipswich Touch Association, however, is more than just a personal commitment to Pedley. It's a family affair.
In 2003, he and his wife Debbie began working as junior co-ordinators.
The competition was promoted through Ipswich's primary schools and the fruits of their labour are still being felt with many of those participants playing representative touch for the Ipswich Falcons or filling the senior playing ranks.
Pedley's three daughters are also following in their father's footsteps by taking hold of a whistle.
Brad Smith shares a similar story. He began his time with the Ipswich Touch Association as a player in 1997 before finding his niche as a referee.
He quickly progressed to a Level 6 referee and like Pedley, is a Level 2 referee assessor and Level 1 coach.
Australia's top five-ranked whistleblower is a veteran of numerous National Touch League, State of Origin and World Cup tournaments.
For the past six years, Smith has fulfilled the roles of vice-president and secretary, both under the watchful gaze of Pedley.
"The ITA committee boasts a group of very dedicated committee members who all work toward a common goal," said Smith, who refereed the men's final at the recent State of Origin series in Coffs Harbour.
The law agent and father of two is modest about the attention.
"I'm honoured, but at the same time embarrassed by being singled out knowing that the committee works closely and thoughtfully to make the right decision for the association," Smith said.
Smith and Pedley give up three nights a week and some weekends to oversee the competition, to referee games and prepare the playing surface.
Season 1 of 2012 boasted over 50 teams across the ladies, mixed and men's competitions.
The second season of 2012 is equally as healthy with close to 50 teams taking the field.
"The strength of our senior and junior competitions is really pleasing, especially in light of the clubhouse and playing fields being inundated by flood water in early 2011," Pedley said. "It's been a long road to recovery, but many triumphs have been made."
The ladies' division is held on Monday evenings, mixed on Tuesdays and men's on Wednesdays.
Smith vies for official of the year on November 3 at the City of Ipswich Sports' Awards Dinner.
Information about the Ipswich Touch Association can be found on its website www.ipswichtouch.com