ECHUCA-MOAMA’S night of sporting nights got under way on Monday night and one thing I can say is — finally.
A month out from the Sportstar Awards I was informed the role of hosting the evening would fall on the shoulders of the Riverine Herald sports journalist, which just happened to be yours truly.
The previous year’s master of ceremonies, Lana Murphy, had moved on in her career to bigger and better things at Channel Nine in Shepparton, leaving the position vacant for the 2016 awards.
I’m not sure what I had done in a past life to be suggested as her replacement, but it was somehow decided I would be the appropriate fit.
As someone who is quite comfortable tapping away in the background behind a computer screen and putting the achievements of people in the sporting community in the foreground — where they belong — the opportunity came as more than a shock.
I almost couldn’t believe the words as they left my mouth.
I accepted the offer and thanked those who had suggested me for the hosting gig and went back to my desk to continue bashing away at whatever story was in the making.
Having had a large hand behind the scenes in the build-up to the Sportstar Awards, I was almost grateful to be given the chance to be centre stage for all the action when the eventual winners were announced.
That gratitude quickly subsided when I realised I would be standing under the spotlight in front of a room full of people I greatly respected to announce each of the finalists and, given the act I had to follow, I was more than a little nervous about how the night would go.
I hadn’t previously been to a Sportstar Awards night so was blissfully unaware about what I had gotten myself into.
But walking into Moama Bowling Club’s function room to see the entire room filled with lighting, programs, past photos and extravagant table arrangements the enormity of the event, and the task I had of ensuring everyone’s night was an enjoyable one, became apparent.
Thankfully I had the passion and dedication of Jennifer Dwyer and the rest of the judging panel who I had worked with throughout the year behind me to ensure the night was a success.
And from where I was standing, front and centre, it was a great success.
People seemed to enjoy themselves and no one fell asleep at their tables — from what I could see.
And most importantly the people for whom the night was all about — the men and women, young and old — who dedicate so much time and effort into the sporting arena and ensuring other people have the same opportunity to participate, were recognised for their achievements.
The most gratifying part of the evening was getting to interview each finalist on stage and hear first hand why they carry so much passion for what they do.
And I did manage to get through the night relatively unscathed.
My congratulations again go out to all the finalists on the night and the winners of every category.
It was truly inspiring to see the calibre of talent in our region and if asked again next year I would probably agree to host again — without any hesitations.