nias fc athletes of the year announced

The Northern Inland’s 2023 football Athletes of the Year have been announced, while many young talented footballers and coaches were celebrated, as part of the annual NIAS FC Academy Awards. 

Held on Friday night, September 22nd in Tamworth, the Awards recognised the accomplishments of the 2022/23 athletes and coaches as well as acknowledged the tremendous support of sponsors.  

Jorja Roach (Tamworth) was named 2023 Female Football Athlete of the Year, while Isaac Edgar (Tamworth) was named 2023 Male Football Athlete of the Year. Ben van Aanholt (Tamworth) took home the Coach of the Year and Andrew Vernon (Tamworth) was named Volunteer of the Year.  

Awards were presented by former Socceroo Adrian Alston with emerging ‘Matildas’ Goalkeeper Chloe Lincoln, from Armidale, sending in a special video message to inspire up-and-coming athletes. 

“I’ve had the very, very lucky privilege of representing my country. It was such a surreal moment to be able to pull on the national team jersey… and to let that sink in,” Chloe, a former Northern Inland Football athlete (now NIAS FC) shared. 

“My advice (to FC athletes) is that it starts with respect and integrity. Make sure that you treat your coaches, teammates, your family and friends and everyone you come across with respect. Gratitude is also really important. There are so many people that will influence your life and footballing journey and at the end of the day you need to realise that you’re not going to get to the highest level by yourself.” 

NIAS CEO Shona Eichorn said the touching message from Chloe formed part of an inspiring night where the collective efforts of all NIAS FC athletes, coaches, program personal, sponsors and partners were celebrated. 

“We have an incredible team at NIAS FC, made up of many generous volunteers and partners, who are dedicated to developing the potential of our regional athletes… on and off the field. It was an honour to acknowledge the tremendous efforts and talents of our current NIAS FC athletes, particularly Jorja and Isaac who were awarded Athletes of the Year,” Mrs Eichorn said. 

Jorja Roach (Tamworth) 2023 Female Football Athlete of the Year

Jorja has been part of the team that improved significantly to land themselves in the 2023 Grand Final. Starting the season with injury, it was dedication and hard work that enabled her to re-join the team as a positive contributor on the pitch. During the year, Jorja represented Australia joining the Australian U15 Girls futsal team.

Isaac Edgar (Tamworth) 2023 Male Football Athlete of the Year 

Isaac is the quiet leader of the team who leads through his on-ball match play. He is a supportive team member, always displaying excellent citizenship and culture both on and off the pitch. He has been leading this age group for several years and, along with some positive performances through both his normal football season and the Talented Support Program, he shows great technical skills and athleticism to further him on the football pathway. 

Ben van Aanholt (Tamworth) Coach of the Year

A former NIAS athlete and a quiet achiever, Ben develops great connections with his young athletes and is always the first to training and games, proving that planning is the key to his success. With his passion for the sport, he understands the importance of developing players not only striving for great results. As part of this focus, he will often implement strategies to develop the young players and allow opposing players time on the ball rather than allowing the goal difference to grow. His team had some great results throughout the year playing against highly ranked clubs. NIAS FC are lucky to have such a knowledgeable and thoughtful coach who knows what is required to achieve success at the next levels.  

Andrew Vernon (Tamworth) Volunteer of the Year

Andrew is a very positive and committed coach while also being a passionate supporter of NIAS FC over the last three years. He is at every NIAS FC game, supporting the club when he can and sharing his incredible coaching knowledge. Whilst his coaching is the greatest asset to NIAS FC, he often volunteers to drive the bus to transport athletes to and from Newcastle across the season. Whilst incurring an injury himself, this did not stop his attendance at matches and training sessions on crutches. Acting as a rock with a coaching direction amongst the club, it is evident his coaching methods are successful with his team being named minor premiers.