Mark Atkinson has worn many hats. He has been a board member and vicechair and head trainer. “Now I’m doing the barbecue and I help my wife in the canteen.”

Mark Atkinson: Inaugural Coach, Three-Time Premiership Coach

At 2 am the day before the first match was ever played at the Rumbalara Football Netball Club grounds, Mark Atkinson and his cousins were busy welding and putting together the scoreboard. The next day he coached the senior team in its very first home match and the following year to the club’s first premiership.

“I coached the firsts three years and then had a bit of a rest and then came back and coached a fourth year,” Mark said. “I then had another rest and then I came back and did the under-14s when my son Jamie was playing and a year in under-17s.”

Mark has worn many hats. He has been a board member and vicechair and head trainer. “Now I’m doing the barbecue and I help my wife in the canteen,” he said.

Mark said it was his passion for the club to be successful not only on the field but as a community that had kept him involved all these years. “It’s a place that family can come spend time and enjoy — that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s just great seeing family members, family kids grow up and develop into young men and play senior football and netball.”

“My fondest memory is the club making available the resources for family, a lot of people of my generation struggled to get what we offer at other clubs.” Mark said it would be a great day for the club when it hosted the 2017 Murray Football Netball League grand finals.

Raelene Nixon: Board Secretary and Canteen Manager

Four months after arriving in Shepparton in 1997 Raelene Nixon witnessed the first Rumbalara senior premiership victory. “It was the first time I saw what a big Aboriginal community we had here, it was amazing,” Raelene said. “I was blown away; I actually hadn’t seen anything like it.

“The atmosphere and support on the day was surreal and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.” From netball player and umpire to the netball committee and organising afternoon teas, there are not many jobs Raelene has not done. Along with her husband Mark, Raelene is at the club at 6 am every home game setting up.

“Nowadays I am secretary to the board, canteen manager and I support our youngest son in his first year of fourths,” she said. For Raelene, Rumba is far more complex than just a football netball club. “While that’s its main business and what you see on a Saturday during winter, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes,” she said. “It means somewhere to belong, a place to come together and to be together, it’s the only place where we are the majority and not a minority.”

“What I love about the club is coming together and being around community, I love being out there and talking to the young people.”

Jamie Atkinson: Board Director, Senior Player and Under-14S Co-Coach

As a Year 3 student Jamie Atkinson remembers watching on as his father Mark coached the senior team to a premiership. Having played more than 200 club games, Jamie is following in his father’s footsteps and said it was the great people around the club that made him want to give back.

“Having leaders like uncle Dallas Terlich and Chris Linehan involved in the football club as no-nindigenous men, they were people that I looked up to when I was younger because they were against the grain, when everyone else was against us,” Jamie said. “Then a few years down the track in ’06 Phil Guthrie came across to us from Shepp Bears and I started looking up to him as well.”

Jamie said the links to culture and family were what made Rumbalara unique. “The reason I love it is because I’ve been involved in it all my life, it’s all I’ve really known,” he said. “Obviously being involved with Dad and now my little brother Ashtyn is running around too which makes it extra-special.”

Ashtyn Atkinson, Under-14S Player

The youngest member of the family, Ashtyn Atkinson pulled on the boots for his first season in the under-14s this year. He said it was great to play for a club he had been around all his life. “It’s a lot of fun and the people that you play with, we’re all related here — we’re all cousins,” Ashtyn said.

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