Roden honoured by FFA

IT'S NOT every day the Maroochydore Football Club groundsman gets to rub shoulders with the game's elite.

Mark Roden, whose involvement with the club goes back to the 1980s, was honoured on Tuesday along with Socceroos and Matilda players at the Sheraton on the Park Hotel, Sydney at the third annual Australian Football Awards.

On the same night Matt McKay was named Footballer of the Year, Roden won Volunteer of the Year for his tireless efforts for not just football in Maroochydore, but for the Sunshine Coast as a whole.

Speaking with The Daily yesterday, the 69-year-old said it was a shock win.

"To me I was accepting it on behalf of all volunteers around Australia," he said.

"I've seen how they all chip in at Maroochydore, and to me they're the motive to keep me going."

Roden was presented with his award by Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley.

Roden was introduced to the sport in 1975 after his eldest son Matthew signed up to play in the Gladesville-Hornsby Soccer Federation in New South Wales.

From there, his involvement grew. He helped map out an amalgamation of two clubs and was eventually elected secretary, fulfilling that position until March 1979 when he and his family moved to the Sunshine Coast.

His three sons began playing soccer in the Sunshine Coast Churches Association, where he coached and his wife managed several teams.

"I knew nothing about the game when I first got involved," he said.

In 1982, Matthew moved to the Maroochydore Soccer Club, then located at Cotton Tree.

Roden quickly became involved in the running of the club, and in 1986 was elected president.

He stepped down in 1988 to manage the transfer of the clubs' grounds to new fields.

He was also heavily involved in securing funding from the Queensland Government for the development of these fields.

After years of work, the new grounds opened in 1990, and Roden was honoured with life membership.

In 1998, Maroochy Shire Council informed the club that it wanted to acquire the land for a major access road to the CBD.

Roden had eased out of club activities by this point, and was planning a golfing retirement, but was asked by then-president Roland Starr to assist him in dealings with Council.

Eventually, a new site at Kunda Park was discovered.

Council then raised the possibility of the site being used as a regional facility.

The Sunshine Coast Football Federation was given the sublease on the new land.

Work began in mid-2000, and the club started playing fixtures in the 2002 season. Since then and through most of his retirement, Roden has helped maintain the fields both for Maroochydore Club and Sunshine Coast Football, although he recently voiced his intentions to scale back. He has agreed to stay on for 2012.