Basically, nothing happens on game day for the Appin Dogs Junior Rugby League Club unless Robert Dreis is around.
“Robert is the first guy there and the last to leave,” said club member Matthew Blunden, after nominating Dreis for the NSWRL Regional Volunteer of the Year Award for the Macarthur Region.
It’s easy to see why Dreis was successful in winning the award.
He is the president and coach, sets up the ground each Saturday, orders the food for the canteen, keeps scores for the games, and then packs it all away at the end. He also attends all training sessions.
“I just love being part of a community like this,” Dreis said. “We all ride the wave together – when they’re down, I’m down but when things are up it’s great. We won the (Group 6 second division) comp in 2016.
“That was such a proud moment for the Appin Dogs. We came from nothing just a few years earlier to win that.”
Dreis was instrumental in breathing new ‘life’ into the Dogs, which fell into a stalemate in the early 2000s. He enlisted the help of a few NRL players to get the club back on the rails.
“Appin had no senior team since 2006 and I had a bloke approach me in 2013 to try to get a team together,” he said.
“I put my hand up – and before I knew it I was roped into being president.
“It was all systems go. We had a few good players come out and have a game for us like Bryce Gibbs, Brett Kimmorley, Stuart Flanagan as we tried to build ourselves up.
“We fielded three teams this year – 18s and two senior teams.”
Dreis said with the Appin Dogs growth he’s looking for like-minded Rugby League-loving souls to help out.
“For anyone who wants to be a volunteer, please go for it because it’s so rewarding,” Dreis said.
“Yes, it’s hard work at times but you give back to your community and you see things grow around you – friendship, respect, support…all the good stuff.”
Blunden put it nicely too, when it came to sharing what Dreis’ hard work has created.
“There is nothing better with a small community of approximately 3,000 getting the chance to get to a local team footy club game, having a sanga, beer, and a chat with your mates while watching the boys go around,” Blunden said.
“Our community is like extended family and football bring us all together. Robert is known around town as the president and is always happy to have a chat to the local kids or the old heads who still love their footy. Robert will walk into the pub or be at the shop and everyone asks, ‘How’s the boys going?’.
“Robert is so well respected. He makes it his responsibility to turn the young guys coming from juniors to seniors into men. Not only with their footy skills but also with respect to referees, supporters, team mates and their families.”