Reward for devotion to the round ball

Football

IF there's anything worth doing in the wonderful world of football in Griffith, chances are Ross Patane has done it, and done it well.

After close to 40 years of service to the round-ball game, Patane the former president of the Griffith District Football Association and a long-time representative coach has been honoured with life membership to the GDFA.

And boy, the association and the game as a whole looks a whole lot different to how it did when Patane was at the helm.

Patane became involved with football at an administrative level for the first time after his four-year-old son signed up for the East Grifffith Soccer Club back in 1984.

From there it was a rapid ascention from mere soccer dad to committeeman to club president and then to the board of the GDFA, finally becoming president of the local governing body in 1988.

He held that position for close to a decade at a time of great change in Griffith football.

"Back then, if I didn't do it, nobody was going to," he said.

"We had a year where soccer wasn't going real good for the seniors in Griffith."

He doesn't know exactly what year because all his football-related records were damaged in the Yenda floods.

"They were traveling to Wagga and clubs weren't very happy so we started the senior comp here.

"There used to be one a long time ago, it was very strong but it died off and Hanwood and Yoogali started traveling.

"But I just put my foot down and said right, we've got enough players here, we're going to do it.

"It was a lot of work and we copped a lot of abuse but we just pushed it. And I loved it I put my heart and soul into it."

Patane knows it was all worth it when he sits back and looks at how far the competition has come.

There were nine first-grade teams this season and while the future isn't exactly crystal clear Wagga's Lake Albert could still join, while there are the usual off-season murmurs about other clubs he knows the game is generally in good shape.

"Back in my day it was virtually a family do, the association. We have improved a lot," he said.

"Over on this side of the Blue Mountains we still don't get nothing from Football NSW. All it is, is we write a check every year and send it off to them.

"But Matty Curran's done a very good job. We've got some very good coaches, the young kids coming up are improving so much and the game's just going in the right direction."

Indeed, it is coaching where Patane's true football passion lies, and his journey there mirrored his one as an administrator he started at his club, then went on to coach at Riverina representative level, collecting numerous accolades along the way with both boys and girls junior sides.

"The only team I haven't coached is a first-grade side, and I don't want to," he laughed.

"I did it for the love of it, because I loved seeing the kids improve so much.

"I can go around a lot of places now and no matter where I go I'll run into someone I've coached."

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