WALLY Franklin is standing down as chairman of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport.
After nine years as chairman and 13 on the NIAS board he believes it’s time for a “fresh face”.
He leaves it in good hands with executive officer Peter Annis-Brown also a long-term hand who runs the sports academy with a calm and sensible hand.
That it has grown to 11 programs (including the Lone Star) and some 180 athletes and 35 coaches in its 20 years is testimony to the drive and patience of Franklin, Annis-Brown and their board
The degree of regard for NIAS was there for all to see on Saturday night when they held their 20th annual Academy Awards.
Sports Minister Graham Annesley was there as well as State MPs Richard Torbay, Kevin Humphreys and Kevin Anderson.
Tamworth Mayor Col Murray was represented by Tim Coates, the chairman of the Tamworth Jockey Club and the Chamber of Commerce. To have those dignitaries on hand was an indictment of just how well run and thought of NIAS is and has become.
Indeed one of its former squad members, Kate Jenner, is now a fully fledged Olympian and was back awarding Armidale’s Brittany Parker her NDL Female of the Athlete of the Year Award.
NDL Male Athlete of the Year Sam Liles was unable to be present to receive his award from Graham Annesley as he was in Malaysia playing a major international tournament for his Australian Under 21 side.
He’s hoping to use that as a selection vehicle to the Australian men’s side to play in the Junior World Cup later in the year.
And while a big awards night for the many talented young athletes, Wally Franklin also had the glow of an award winner.
Earlier in the week he’d received a gong from NSW premier Barry O’Farrell.
He was recognised for his contribution to the local community by receiving a NSW Government Community Service Award. The award recognised Wally’s commitment to various Tamworth charities and not-for-profit organisations and his long service to NIAS.
He has been involved with NIAS since 2001 and has been Chairman since 2004.
“It was a surprise,” Franklin admitted on Saturday night.
“I thought I was just meeting with the Premier.”
He said the fact Graham Annesley had made the effort to drive to Tamworth was a bonus for NIAS.
“He gave us four years funding earlier this year,” he said.
“About $140,000 a year for all the 11 academies across the State.”
That’s another reason he’s “pulling the pin”, with adequate financial support for the immediate future guaranteeing the various programs will continue.
“I’ve been with them (NIAS) for 14 years, it’s time for me to move on.”
He said the UTS scholarships were also a huge help.
That Tamworth’s Alex McKenzie and Armidale’s Claire Eichorn won them was a delight for the departing Franklin.
“They are both impressive young people,” he said.
GIRLS HOCKEY: Most Improved: Alice Arnott ; Most Dedicated: Belinda Burton ; Coach’s Award: Claire Eichorn; Athlete of the year nominee: Brittany Parker.
BOYS HOCKEY: Most Improved: Donovan Chalmers; Most Dedicated: Ben Hanlan; Coach’s Award: Josh Worpel; Athlete of the year nominee: Sam Liles.
RUGBY UNION: Most Improved: James Kennelly; Most Dedicated: Zeb Buchanan; Coach’s Award: Dean Wilson; Athlete of the year nominee: John Porch.
TOUCH: Most Improved: Timothy Trainor and Madison Cook; Athlete of the year nominees: Chloe Coe and Brodii Ingram.
NETBALL: Most Improved: Shakira Allen; Most Dedicated: Olivia Eastburn; Coach’s Award: Harriet Raleigh; Athlete of the year nominee: Alice Read.
SWIMMING: Most Improved: Mia Emanuel; Most Dedicated: Ellie Camilleri ; Coach’s Award: Josh Chisholm; Athlete of the year nominee: Jay Kennedy.
TENNIS: Most Improved: Josh Stevenson; Most Dedicated: Conor Dennehy; Coach’s Award: Darcie Martin; Athlete of the year nominee: Emily Osmond.
TRIATHLON: Most Improved: Maddy Robinson; Most Dedicated: Sophie Heeney; Coach’s Award: Hayden Freeman; Athlete of the year nominee: Jackson Ludlow.
GOLF: Most improved: Luke York ; Most Dedicated: Ben Koopman; Coach’s Award: Knox Fisher; Athlete of the year nominee: Nathan Mann.
CYCLING: Most improved: Harrison Munday; Most Dedicated: Damon Marshall: Coach’s Award: Zac Sunderland; Athlete of the year nominee: Sam Jenner.
LAWN BOWLS: Most Improved: Alyse Peters-McMillan; Most Dedicated: Justin Bullen; Coach’s Award: Scott Sharmon; Athlete of the year nominee: Hudson O’Sullivan