By Mitchell Clarke
He’s one of the faces recognised within the walls of the ROC Officer Football Club but now former president Barry O’Loughlin has been recognised externally, receiving a Gembrook Community Award.
Nominated by the club’s current president Nick McLennan, Mr O’Loughlin was given one of the community awards in Brad Battin’s inaugural award ceremony on 1 October.
The Pakenham local was one of 38 recipients, each awardee receiving a specially made Robert Gordon Gembrook Plate, designed especially for this year’s awards.
“We are lucky to have so many wonderful members in the Gembrook Electorate who selflessly go the extra mile to build a stronger community,” MP Brad Battin said.
“It was inspiring for all on the night to hear the amazing work each awardee contributes for their community, expecting nothing in return and celebrating their hard work.
“The Gembrook Community Awards is a time where we as a community can stop and say thank you to those who selflessly give their time for the sole benefit of others.”
Barry’s been involved with the football club for over 10 years but despite stepping down from his role at the end of the 2017 season, the stalwart is still very much involved with the club.
Awarded Club Person of the Year for 2019, Barry still manages to find time away from full time work to do all the cooking for the club, with his efforts raising over $25,000.
“I just love this club, I still have a son playing, so I’m still heavily involved with them, for obvious reasons,” he said.
As the club is sitting pretty in terms of on-field success, it hasn’t always been the case, with Barry reminiscing on tougher times.
“When I took over the club, it was pretty down and I’ve got it back on its feet,” he explained.
Up until 1977, the club was recognised as Officer Senior Football Club but from 1977 to 2015, the club amalgamated to ROC (Rythdale Officer Cardinia) Football Club, with Mr O’Loughlin being instructive in rebranding the club back to Officer Football Club.
“I went in with an open mind and I actually changed the name because I was finding it difficult to market the club so through the commission we changed the name,” he explained.
“Getting that identity back was very important to us. To honour that and keep the legacy, we had to be cautious as we didn’t want to be disrespectful to anyone.”
And while the times haven’t always been easy, Mr O’Loughlin is now able to sit back and reflect on the work he’s done, from setting up a senior women’s team to watching junior players grow into young men.
“I feel really honoured, I’m obviously not in it for the glory but I definitely was a bit chuffed getting this,” Barry said.
“I enjoy the comradery of what it is, and personally I’m pretty honoured for the recognition.
“But the award is not just for me, it’s for the whole club and everyone within it.”