Every year, home-grown sporting stars and legends are recognised and honoured for their achievements and exceptional contributions to sport in Victoria at the Victorian Sport Awards (VSAs), dubbed ‘the night of nights’ for the state’s athletic community.

The VSAs acknowledge the whole gamut of Victorian sport, from grassroots heroes to high-performance athletes who competed nationally and internationally, including individual athletes, sporting teams, coaches, officials, volunteers, administrators, media personnel and sport initiatives.

Of the 20 awards to be won, 19 will be available for nominations via the Vicsport website until Friday, March 3.

With awards such as Victorian Local Government Initiative of the Year, Victorian Community Sporting Event of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Victorian Community Coach of the Year, Victorian Community Official of the Year, and Victorian Community Sporting Club of the Year up for grabs, now is the time to nominate a Gippsland local who has made exceptional contributions to sport in the region.

Vicsport chief executive, Lisa Hasker, said it was crucial to recognise and celebrate sporting successes across the state, especially in regional areas, having faced consistent hardships from fires to COVID to floods.

“We’ve got a lot of athletes, volunteers, administrators, coaches, that work tirelessly in sport to make it a success and a wonderful place for people to be, and we want to make sure that each year we are recognising and highlighting all that work,” she said.

“Whether that be from a coaching side, administration side, officiating, umpiring or whatever that might be, so we encourage people to stay in sport and to help in building sport as a welcoming place for people to come along.

“Particularly in regional towns, sport is one thing that brings the community together, and it relies on the volunteers to keep the club going, which is building the community connectedness at the club, so it’s really vital to reward those people who are putting in the hours and hours and hours to keep sport going because without our officials, coaches, and all the rest of our volunteers, we wouldn’t have sport.”

Alongside local legends recognised for their commitment and contribution to sport, the VSAs have recognised some of Australia’s biggest names in sport, including Cathy Freeman, Leisel Jones, Meg Lanning, Dylan Alcott, Cadel Evans, and the late Shane Warne, bringing together all facets of Victorian sport.

“Most award things just award the top, the person who won a medal at the Olympics, or the Commonwealth Games, or something like that, but we wanted to make sure that the local president of a footy club in a small town that has been putting in for 50 years is also someone who is awarded for all their effort because it is just as much as an elite athlete to keep that club rolling along, particularly in tricky times,” Hasker said.

“So it’s very much a focus on having awards available to everyone right through the Victorian sporting system.”

Vicsport receives a few hundred nominations for the Victorian Sport Awards each year, which are presented to a series of judging panels that select four finalists in each category.

The 2022 Victorian Sport Awards finalists will be announced in April before the winners from each category are revealed on Wednesday, June 7 at Marvel Stadium.

Vicsport chair, Ritchie Hinton, urges all Victorians to submit their nominations to ensure their sport is well represented on the night.

“The premier event on the Victorian sporting calendar, Vicsport is delighted to once again recognise and celebrate the wonderful achievements of our state’s sport and recreation community through the Victorian Sport Awards,” Hinton said.

“These awards provide an opportunity to honour the grassroots heroes who keep our sport and recreation sector thriving, as well as the professional athletes who starred on the world stage in 2022 at events such as the Commonwealth Games and Winter Olympics. I urge all Victorians to submit their nominations to ensure their sport is well represented on the night.”

More information on the 2022 Victorian Sport Awards can be found at https://vicsport.com.au/2022-victorian-sport-awards