AFTER 35 years' service to the Karratha Kats football and sporting club and the North Pilbara Football League, Shane Harris has won the Toyota AFL National Volunteer of the Year Award.
Harris first began to volunteer at the football club when his son joined the Kats as a junior.
Name a role at a local footy club, and Harris – who works in a mechanical workshop when he's not at the Kats – has done it.
Committee member, junior coach, reserves coach, league coach, treasurer, vice-president, and since 2010, president of the Kats.
ALL THE WINNERS The 2021 Toyota AFL National Volunteer award recipients
He has even been known to pull on the boots when the reserves team are short a player or two.
"As you do, you start out cutting the oranges, and it just leads into everything else from there. I suppose if you're getting involved, you get involved, that's the way I look at it," Harris said.
"That's how it starts off, and then you get into a bit of coaching, then committees, different associations – junior and senior – I just like to be involved.
"I get a lot of enjoyment out of young kids – and now young ladies – start off and work their way through. You grow with the juniors into seniors, and it's rewarding to see them come through and get results. We've won a few flags and it's rewarding to see."
Karratha is around 850km south-west of Broome, following the highway along the coast of Western Australia.
"Our association is pretty spread out. We can travel 250km to a game and then back again at night. We do five hours' travel just to play one game of footy," he said.
"It's mostly night footy, with the heat and so forth, so we head off at lunch time on Saturday, play Saturday night and then get home about 1 o'clock on Sunday morning. It's a big day.
"It's a pretty transient town, it changes from year to year, so you do get a lot of turnover and people coming through. It's probably why I've stayed for so long, because it's so transient, you need that stability at the top to keep things steady."
Harris has been instrumental in supporting other local teams in his role as the vice-president of the North Pilbara Football League, as well as in the introduction of girls and women's footy in recent years.
"There are clubs that struggle from time to time, so you try and help them along. We don't have a competition if we don't have clubs, so it's in our vested interest to try and keep them up and running," Harris said.
"The girls have had two full seasons under their belt now. That's coming along very well, it's a six-team comp in this area, and we're looking at trying to develop youth ladies next year, get that younger brigade in.
"With only eight home games a year, in order to maintain the football club, we needed to branch out and make it a sporting club. We run 14 netball teams, men's and women's cricket, so ladies' football was just a natural progression. We were keen to get on board and boost our membership and make the club more viable."