Top volunteer shares valuable sporting and life lessons
AS a successful former Ipswich and state league basketballer, Darryl Kitching never thought he'd end up winning a major volunteering award for football.
However, such is the Raceview all-rounder's passion for sport that he jumped in - boots and all - when new football opportunities arose.
After first helping out with Ipswich's Centre of Football Excellence in 2011 and 2012, Kitching progressed his coaching and took on multiple roles when Western Pride FC was formed in 2013.
That dedication earnt Kitching Volunteer of the Year recognition in the 2018 City of Ipswich Sports Awards.
Aged 54, the proud Ipswich supporter provided a valuable insight into his generous approach to sport and life.
"I do find it hard to say no when I'm asked to do some-thing,'' Kitching said.
"The other thing with me is I see it bigger than sport as well.
"All the lessons I learnt from sport I know not only helped me in my sporting career and my sporting life, but also helped me in my life outside of sport.
"I call it giving back and passing it on or passing it forward.''
Kitching said it was positive and pleasing to share any knowledge he can encouraging young people.
"Yes, be good with their sporting career but also to go on and be valuable members of the community,'' he said.
"That's what I get the most out of, seeing young people grow up and succeed and go on and do things.''
After receiving his award, Kitching was eager to praise Western Pride's other volunteers who help him deliver high quality sport for senior and junior male and female teams in the state league competition.
"It is a team effort at Western Pride and I really do feel like I'm just one of the many,'' he said.
Kitching works closely with Pride general manager Pat Boyle and other "amazing'' workers like his wife Charmain, Debbie Herrmann, Hellen Vaccaneo, and Darryl and Jan Christensen.
"I'm very proud to receive it, a great honour,'' he said. "It's been a long time since I've received any sporting award.''
Playing basketball in the 1980s, he used to win awards like Most Valuable Player.
The Queensland Public Service senior manager has no regrets about switching focus to football after 12 years representing the Ipswich Eagles in Brisbane and Queensland basketball leagues.
The former guard was a Queensland representative and coached a Utah Valley State College team in the United States during his successful career on the court.
"As I got older and just finished playing, ways to stay involved were either to coach or to help out at clubs,'' he said.
"I've been doing both over at the football club and I fell into it by accident.''
With his boys Will and Matt becoming involved in higher level football, Darryl stepped forward to help out.
"When Will started playing football, I just thought I would just sit in the background and be a dad,'' he recalled.
But that idea didn't last long with the formation of Ipswich's Football Centre of Excellence in 2011.
From one of Ipswich's best known footballing families, Darryl assisted coaching juniors at the development centre for two years. He continued at Western Pride when Ipswich's new regional club was admitted to the 2013 state league competition.
Darryl's youngest son Matt was also involved in the Pride junior program. The sporting dad coached Pride's under-12 side in the NPL debut season.
Meanwhile Pride's first under-13 boys side, including Will, used to cop some hidings before the young players worked hard and stuck together to finish third in 2016 (as an under-16 team).
That was the highest a Western Pride junior team had come at that stage.
A year later, the same side were crowned under-18 state league premiers.
This season, Pride's under-18 boys added an under-18 National Premier Leagues grand final victory to their achievements.
"It was pleasing to see the juniors progress like that,'' Darryl said.
"Along the way, I wasn't just coaching. I started to do things behind the scenes and help (general manager) Pat Boyle out and started doing stuff around the grounds with all the maintenance and facilities at the place.
"That was good for me. It was another way to stay involved and it was very pleasing when the men were making their big run in 2017, when they won the grand final.''
Having been a state league basketballer, Darryl enjoyed making his contribution as a volunteer to Western Pride's historic successes.
"I knew from playing and coaching that all those little things behind the scenes add up,'' he said.
"It was pleasing for me that I could go in and have every-thing ready for that team and for the coach . . . the fields, the nets, the balls, the refs. All they had to do was walk in and play.
"Me and Pat and some other volunteers have everything under control.''
That selfless attitude is why Darryl has broadened his Western Pride voluntary involvement in recent seasons.
His roles this season included facilities, grounds and equipment management, along with regular ground official duties.
He also worked with canteen and bar staff and was heavily involved in planning junior and senior club games and major events at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
And Darryl was never far away from doing some valuable coaching.