19 Round 1
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Steve Willis has been playing and sponsoring sport his entire life, and the Kiama JAFC has been lucky enough to have him involved with our club for the past six years.
His contribution goes well beyond signing a cheque every season and providing the pads for the goalposts at Bonaira Oval. You will see Steve at almost every Kiama Lightning Under 12s game this year, sporting a beanie, backing the team and his son Grady.
He is also often at training on a Wednesday night, where he has an encouraging word for the boys and girls, while lending a hand to their coach Jamie Browne. And if you were at the ground last Sunday, you would have enjoyed a feast of Red Rooster goodies after the Under 12 game.
Former Kiama president Troy Gent ran into Steve at playgroup six years ago and somewhere between changing nappies and chopping the fruit, Troy managed to persuade him to get involved with the club.
“Up until the age of 14 or so one of our biggest influences is our parent or guardian. However, after this age our sons start to look outside the family circle for role models and will gravitate towards who ever is around their environment.
“Rather than leave this up to chance, having your child in a football club is great way of manipulating the likelihood of who that person will be. While the occasional media report does not paint senior footballers in a great light, for the most they are young men that the boys can relate to and gravitate towards.
“They hold down jobs, enjoy fitness and socialise in adult environments. When our children hit the scary ages of 16, 17 and 18, the likelihood is that these guys will become their role models.
“When our boys pass them in Woolworths and they stop for a talk our sons feel a little more grown up. And when our boys’ younger friends say, ‘Who was he?’ they reply with ‘He is a mate from footy’.
That first move led to travel around Australia doing various jobs and running businesses in places such as Sydney, Bowen, Griffith and Shellharbour.
It was while he was based in Shellharbour that he met his future bride, Josephine. Eventually they moved to Kiama to start a family. “And we still feel like we're on holiday,“ he adds.
One of Steve’s proudest boasts is that he’s had 31 different jobs since he left school, including water blaster, graffiti remover, fruit picker, meat worker, furniture removalist and shop manager. “I don't fear change!” he says.
Steve’s first business in Kiama was graffiti removal, which he ran from 2001 to 2007, buying the Red Rooster franchise in 2008. He has built the business up to the point where it employs 24 people, all of them local, from a cross-section of the community. His staff includes students at St Mary’s College in Wollongong, St Josephs Albion Park and Kiama High. “it's been a very developing experience for me running Red Rooster. I’m far better off for doing it."
"The one thing I would like to see if more parents getting involved in any way they can. It doesn’t matter whether it’s picking up the cones at the end of training, every little bit helps."
Go the Power!