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New sports awards celebrate Murray Bridge’s stars for the first time
A cricketer, a netballer, two basketballers and a two-club legend have been recognised at the first edition of a new awards ceremony in 2021.
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If sport is just another name for community, as former footy league president Terry Connolly would say, then these five men and women are all of us.
They are the winners of the first-ever Murray Bridge sports awards, presented at a cocktail event at the Bridges Event Centre on Wednesday night.
Instead of giving out sporting awards on Australia Day, as in the past, the stand-alone ceremony ensured Murray Bridge’s sports stars were properly celebrated, Mayor Brenton Lewis said.
That was important when sport was so central to country people’s identities.
Perhaps that was why the sports volunteer of the year award – not the junior or senior sportsperson of the year – was the most anticipated of the night.
Here’s who won what.
Sports volunteer of the year
Monarto Cricket Club and Mypolonga Football Club life member Ian “Normie” Bates took out the night’s top award, recognising his decades of dedication to both sports.
As well as being Monarto’s president, he coaches under-15 cricketers at club and association level, has coached junior footy, has spent a total of 35 years on the committees of both his clubs, and can also be found umpiring, cooking the barbecue or working in the canteen – all after a playing career which made him a life member of the River Murray Football League.
The other finalists were:
Peter Newell, a 40-year member of Murray Bridge Rowing Club who stewarded it through the development of the new regional rowing centre
Michelle Afford, the Jervois Netball Club president who found them a new competition during last year’s COVID shutdown, and a hard court tennis association life member
John Bartel, the track maintenence man with the Go Kart Club of SA who this year had an annual race meeting named in his honour
Sportsman of the year
An emotional Jared Marston took home the sportsman of the year award for his cricketing exploits at Mypolonga.
As well as captaining their A-grade premiership side last summer, he has represented the Murray Towns in the Meyer Shield, the Fleurieu and Districts in the SA Country Cup and the SA Outbacks at a national level.
Runner-up in the category was state, SA Super League and Murray Bridge RSL lawn bowler Noel Kneebone.
Sportswoman of the year
There were some serious contenders in this category but, just like on the netball court, there was no beating Olivia Bolt.
The only netballer to play in each of Imperials’ consecutive grand final wins over the past eight years, she’s a life member, premiership-winning captain, eight-time club best and fairest and seven-time River Murray rep at the SA Country Championships, not to mention a former Murray Bridge lawn tennis singles champion.
Unlucky to miss out were:
Courtney Manning, the Lower Murray Hardcourt Tennis Association’s best female player and River Murray Netball Association’s B grade best and fairest
Laurette Norton, the top-ranked table tennis player in country SA and a premiership-winning darts player
Young sportsman of the year
This award went to basketballer Kurt Bustamante, Murray Bridge’s only player on an SA Country team which played in Darwin this year and a Saints and Murray Bridge association MVP.
Runner-up was Imperials’ Blake Langton, the River Murray Football League’s best under-16 player.
Young sportswoman of the year
Roxanna Tyler received this award after her silver medal-winning adventure with an SA Country basketball team at the same Darwin tournament.
She has been an MVP not only with Galaxy and the Murray Bridge Basketball Association, but also Jervois and the River Murray Netball Association.
Five-time Murray Bridge Golf Club women’s champion – at the age of 17 – Armani Marsters was the runner-up.