ORANGE’S Bernie Stedman has a football field named after him and now he has a state award to hang on his wall.
Late last year Stedman was given a Football NSW State Award to recognise his years of commitment to the game.
The 84-year-old wasn’t able to attend the dinner and yesterday was still enjoying having the plaque in his hands.
“It’s great. You’re being recognised for what you’ve done,” Stedman beamed.
“The next best thing is having that field named after me,” he said pointing to Bernie Stedman Field at Jack Brabham Park.
Stedman was nominated for the award by Western NSW Football operation and development manager Andrew Fearnley.
Stedman wasn’t able to attend the awards night so Orange District Football Association (ODFA) president Tony Mileto accepted the award on his behalf.
“I went to receive it on his behalf and then organised a dinner with the executive to present the award to him. It was a shock to him,” Mileto said.
Stedman has been involved in football since he was 21.
In that time he has been involved as a player, coach, referee, referee educator and administrator.
He is still the ODFA senior vice-president, and has been the Orange Referees’ Association president for more than 30 years.
Why does he stay involved? It’s simple.
“I like it,” Stedman said.
“It’s a winter sport for me. My other favourite sport is fishing and I have that in summer.”
He is quick to point out he wouldn’t be able to do everything he does without the support of his wife, June, and his family.
He had to stop refereeing when he was 79 because his knees couldn’t handle it any more.
However, you’ll still find him at Jack Brabham Park each Saturday during the football season, where he helps educate and mentor referees.
Mileto said Stedman was well respected in football circles due to his significant, and ongoing, contribution.
Despite all he has achieved, there is more Stedman would like to see happen.
“I’d like Orange Soccer to get more recognition. I’d like to see more state titles here,” he said.
“I hope to get more referees this year. That’s the big thing. You need 60 to 80 referees to cover all the games.”
If you’re interested in becoming a referee, Stedman is the man to see.
Just make sure you don’t refer to football as “the round ball game”.
“The ball is spherical. That’s the first question we were asked in our referee exam,” he smiled.