Caboolture rugby coach Sione C Lolohea says he was “shocked” to be named one of Australia's top 10 unsung sporting heroes.
The Cadbury Volunteer Values Awards for grassroots sports clubs, recognised Lolohea’s outstanding contribution as coach of Snakes' Under 16 boys’ team.
As a result, Caboolture Snakes has received $15,000, which will be used to provide high-level coaching and on equipment. Lolohea won $2500.
Both prizes were presented by Federal Member for Longman Terry Young at Petersen Rd.
The award citation read: “Sione has skilfully united the team of spirited under-16 boys together.
“Instilling values of respect, mateship and pride in their achievements and losses as a team, Sione has even gone as far as to bridge gaps between clubs inviting opposing teams to end-of-game barbecues.”
The Cadbury award stunned Lolohea who admitted: “I was shocked, I was speechless! It means a lot for me, personally.
“Caboolture’s a country town with a small club. Most people go past, so to be recognised by Cadbury’s Volunteer Values Award is really touching for the whole community.
“I would like to thank the parents from Caboolture Snakes Rugby Union Club and all the volunteers that have helped out.”
“I think coaching young kids helped me see a lot of opportunity within the club, particularly with the younger teams.
“Winning this has inspired me to continue looking for programs to help the kids develop on and off the field.”
Caboolture Rugby Club General Manager John Flew was delighted to see reward for a coach’s “tireless and often thankless work”.
“Many dedicated hours go unnoticed and this is no different for Sione who spends most of his time at the club coaching, officiating and helping where he can,” Flew said.
“We would like to thank Cadbury for the kind donation and Sione and all our great volunteers for their hard work and dedication.”
Originally from New Zealand. Lolohea played rugby union as a forward and inside centre and after moving to Australia played rugby league at full back.
He joined Caboolture Snakes in 2014 and started coaching in 2019, taking charge of his son’s under 6 side.
Lolohea believes the key to coaching is “getting the kids to value their time both on and off the field, emphasising the importance of values such as respect to one another”.
“Little towns often don’t get as much attention as the larger ones so making sure we’ve got a culture that people like and want to join goes a long way in growing the team," he said.
“Parents and other coaches have noticed the effort we’ve put into Caboolture’s culture and have told me how impressed they are. It’s something I’m really proud of.”
Lolohea was one of 10 national winners from NSW, Victoria, South Australia, West Australia, Queensland and Tasmania.
Cadbury’s Volunteer Values Awards, part of its Cheer and a Half campaign, aim to inspire Australians to support local sporting clubs with donations and by volunteering.
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