Before her sons came along, Laura Ranger had nothing to do with football.
“I’m a dancer. I wanted ballerinas, I’ll be honest,” she says with a laugh.
Fast forward six years and now Ranger plays the game and has done a referee course. She is also embarking on her first year as the president of a club.
“I’ve really thrown myself into it. I wouldn’t have ever thought that it was for me. But now it gives me so much enjoyment.”
Northern NSW Football is thanking its 8,000 dedicated, hard-working volunteers that make playing football in our region possible this week as part of National Volunteer Week 2020.
National Volunteer Week, from 18 to 24 May, is an annual celebration which acknowledges the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. This year the theme is “Changing Communities. Changing Lives.”
Ranger started volunteering at Newcastle Football club Mayfield United when her then five-year-old son joined the Tigers about six years ago.
She became the team’s coach before joining the committee.
Three years as club secretary followed before she became registrar last year. And Ranger has perpetually been the club’s MiniRoos coordinator since her arrival.
This is her first year as Mayfield United club president.
“Being president of a club I really see it as just being the glue that keeps everything together in terms of how the club runs,” Ranger said.
“You delegate, support and nurture all your volunteers and your committee as well as your coaches, managers and families to just guide the ship really.”
Such has been her efforts as a volunteer, Ranger was named the Newcastle Permanent Volunteer of the Year for 2019 for her ongoing commitment and dedication to football at Mayfield United.
While no volunteer does what they do for accolades or glory, Ranger said it had been a pleasant surprise.
“It was huge. A bit of a surprise, I had no idea,” she said.
“Russell (Henry) at Newcastle Football said all the nominees that were awarded through the zone were invited and it was just a nice dinner. I thought no worries, I’ll go along. I definitely wasn’t prepared.
“But it was a really nice surprise. It was a nice honour.”
Ranger also paid tribute to the hard-working committee at Mayfield United as well as the tight-knit community of parents and supporters.
“Mayfield has a wonderful membership base. From parents to the kids to coaches and managers. The committee, our volunteers, we’ve got so many wonderful people. We’re a real community,” she said.
“I just love getting the kids out there to play and see the enjoyment they get. I’ve got a passion for seeing little kids thrive and just giving back.
“I’m a full-time, working mum of three boys. I like to get down there on game days and get involved. And show that anyone can get up there. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you don’t need any qualifications or a background in football. You just have to have that enthusiasm and the right attitude.
“You seem to just find the time. I think if you enjoy what you do you make room for it. To be president of a club is a full-time job on its own. I’m lucky I’ve got a fantastic committee underneath me and we support each other. You’re not constantly having to do something yourself, there are always people around to offer help which is nice.”