The winners in the sporting excellence category are sharing their love of sport with the Adelaide community by making new friends, sharing their cultures and dreaming big dreams. We invited them to share their stories.
Winner: Siew Li Ooi from Malaysia
Giving back with a passion for sport
Although waking early on cold mornings is generally not much fun, when Siew Li was rising to head across town and coach children in Australian Rules Football, she says she was never happier.
Through volunteering as a sports coach, Siew Li has worked with children from varying backgrounds, including children with disabilities, children with parents away on deployment, and children looking to build confidence through the universal language of sport. And she says that they have taught her as much as she has taught them.
What inspired you to volunteer as a sports coach?
I really wanted to give back to the community in Adelaide, so I called Volunteers SA & NT to see what I could do. They found me an opportunity through my university where I could coach children with disabilities in Australian Rules Football. It really makes my day to see those kids learn and grow.
Describe what receiving this award means to you
It is a real certification of what I have done and what I can do. I never thought of myself as a leader, but this is self-proof that getting out of your comfort zone is well worth it.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Adelaide?
I love hiking and cycling with friends. One of my favourite places is Belair National Park.
Highly Commended: Navreet Singh from India
Navreet has been practising the Sikh martial art of Gatka since he was 12 years old, but he never thought he’d be able to continue his practice here in Adelaide. When the head priest at the Sikh temple asked him to teach the art to children attending the temple, Navreet jumped at the chance. He now teaches over 30 children, passing on the art to future generations and teaching them self-respect, endurance, calmness and discipline.
Navreet has also performed at community events and won trophies for his Gatka performance. He would like to introduce Gatka to the wider community in Adelaide, encouraging people to discover their own spiritual, mental and physical abilities.
When he’s not busy with his studies or Gatka practice, Navreet loves to hike from Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit, where the view of the city is a welcome reward after such a challenging walk.
Honourable Mention: Pascal Vendetti from France
With a lifelong passion for the game of soccer, Pascal is pursuing a dream to one day be the coach of a World Cup-winning team. After seeking advice from Adelaide-based soccer coaches and players, Pascal is on his way to achieving a professional coaching license.
He has also taken on several opportunities to coach, including as the head soccer coach for South Australia at the 2017 Special Olympics Junior National Games on the Gold Coast and the coach of the senior team at the 2018 Special Olympics National Games to be held in Adelaide.
Pascal’s studies in remedial massage are part of his ultimate goal, as this knowledge and experience in human movement will be well regarded when he is looking for professional coaching work in the future.
Pascal loves living in Adelaide, which he chose for its outdoor and cycling lifestyle. He likes to ride his bike along the beach, and of course, loves to cheer on Adelaide United.