Carissa wins national Volunteer of the Year prize

Port Macquarie president Carissa Embling receives her AFL NSW/ACT Volunteer of the Year certificate from NSW Premier Chris Minns.

PORT Macquarie Magpies president Carissa Embling has taken out the top overall honour in the 2023 Toyota AFL National Volunteer of the Year Awards.

As the winner of the Toyota AFL Community Volunteer of the Year, Carissa is the recipient of a brand new Toyota Hilux, which she will be presented with before attending the 2023 Toyota AFL Grand Final.

The impact Carissa has had on her club and the game in the Port Macquarie community has been profound.

After serving as treasurer for the Magpies for a number of years, Embling took on the role of president in 2023 and has overseen a major uplift in sponsorship revenue, grant funding, player support programs and has been a fantastic advocate for growing football for women and girls at the club and the NSW North Coast region.

Carissa was told of her win on Thursday when Brisbane Lions great Simon Black turned up to Port Macquarie’s footy training to surprise the club president with the announcement and let her know that she’d be getting a new Toyota Hilux as part of the prize.

“It’s a total shock to be the National Community Volunteer of the Year,” Carissa said.

“I love the football club and have really enjoyed the past five years on the committee. As a volunteer, you certainly don’t do things for accolades but recognition is always nice, on this scale it’s phenomenal.

“As president, I’m lucky to see the value football can give people within the club and the broader community and I feel fortunate to be part of a team which can make a difference to people’s lives.

“I’m so grateful to Darren (Boulet) for nominating me, Toyota and the AFL for the incredible prizes. Thank you and I’m already looking forward to next season.”

AFL Executive General Manager Game Development, Rob Auld, said volunteers are the heartbeat of local football.

“I sincerely thank the more than 220,000 volunteers across the country who make such an important contribution to the game and their communities,” Auld said.

“Congratulations to those honoured as part of the 2023 Toyota AFL National Volunteer of the Year Awards, a wonderful achievement and deserving acknowledgment.  

“All individual winners have played vitally important roles in serving grassroots football with overall national winner Carissa Embling a shining example of the positive and important volunteers have on their clubs and communities.

Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer, Vin Naidoo, said that Toyota Australia takes great pride in its support of volunteers in these grassroots clubs who dedicate countless hours giving back to their communities

“We’re proud to be presenting the Toyota AFL Community Volunteer Award for another year to celebrate this,” Naidoo said.

“Congratulations to Carissa Embling and to all the Toyota AFL Volunteers Awards finalists on this amazing achievement.”

The annual awards, this year comprising 13 categories, recognise volunteers across Australia who have made outstanding contributions to community football. All NAB AFL Auskick centres, schools, community clubs and leagues in each state and territory were invited to participate, with more than 1000 nominations received nationally.

2023 Toyota AFL National Volunteer Awards – Winners

AwardNameState / TerritoryClub / OrganisationRole
Toyota AFL Community VolunteerCarissa EmblingNSWPort Macquarie Magpies / AFL North CoastPresident
Toyota AFL YOUNG LeaderMarni FarrugiaSAFitzroy Women’sAuskick Mentor
Community ClubRochester Football ClubVicRochester Football Netball Club 
NAB AFL Auskick VolunteerRoxy BrockQldZillmere EaglesJunior Vice President & NAB AFL Auskick Coordinator
AFL Diversity AmbassadorNabil YassineVicHume Crescent / EDFL / Unity Cup AmbassadorTeacher – Ilim College
AFL Disability Inclusion VolunteerRobert TurnerWAKlemscott Football ClubAll Abilities Coach
AFL National Community Umpiring ServicePeter McKenzieQldAFL Queensland UmpiresYouth Umpire Coach
AFL Community Coach of the Year (Female)Tracey JedrzejewskiNSWWollondilly Knights Football ClubWomen’s Head Coach
AFL Community Coach of the Year (Male)Will ThatchellTasEast Launceston Junior Football ClubCoach
AFL School Teacher of the Year (Female)Nuria UrshoffWAAustralian Islamic CollegeTeacher
AFL School Teacher of the Year (Male)Ben HawthorneQldBanksia Beach State School 
AFL National Community Football Media AwardNoel WatsonVicCentral Murray FNL, Golden Rivers FL, North Central FLMedia personality
AFL National Community Football Photography AwardTymunna ClementsNTWanderers Football ClubPhotographer