By Lachlan Mitchell
The Pakenham Netball Club would be a very different place without its volunteers.
One of those many hands is Sarah O’Neill, the current secretary and lifelong contributor of the club who has been ingrained in the very fabric of the Lions cause.
Sarah was a part of the club as a player and has since taken up the post of secretary.
Previously she was uniform and merchandise coordinator before moving into secretary where she has been for the past five years.
This exceptional volunteer is the backbone of the club on game day, making sure everything runs as smooth as possible.
Sarah’s action plans ensure that the girls have what it takes to be their best on court.
Her infectious sense of giving, and her contagious sense of humour, have rubbed off on her children Charlotte and Georgia.
Both of Sarah’s children play a pivotal role in the Lions community, Charlotte is currently in her second year of seniors while Georgia is ready to take the next step to seniors in 2023.
The family environment has always been the reason that Sarah has contributed for so long and continues to give back to the community.
“I’ve been at the club since I was a lot younger and I was brought up in that environment,” O’Neill said.
“When it was time for my girls to play netball and come into the club, there wasn’t a hesitation to where it would be.
“They started playing netball at Pakenham and I just love being part of such an amazing family…from the kids to the volunteers and players.
“You just join in and put your hand up and get in there and make sure you make the club the best it can be.
“For me it is good to be a part of a successful club both on and off the court.
“We have such a beautiful family down at the club, we know all the kids from under 13’s to A-Grade.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
The community aspect of local sport really shines through at the Pakenham Netball Club.
“We are all one at the club,” O’Neill explained.
“Everybody knows everyone and we get to see the kids grow up from under 13 to the big leagues and we know their families.
“We continuously have people coming up and asking us what we can do and is there anything we can do to help.
“People often say Pakenham brings an army, so it’s not always left up to those one or two people every time.”
Sarah has been pleased to see her children Georgia and Charlotte stepping up and volunteering at the club as well.
“My older daughter umpires and they are both happy to pitch in where they can,” she said.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, when you volunteer yourself your children often see what you do and they follow suit.
“It just not my family, but all committee member families pitch in and help out, we have a family where everyone from the kids to the mums and dads help out.”
Local hero Sarah is certainly deserving of the title of Volunteer of the Week.