11 January 2023

2022 Year in Review: Sport around the Riverina

| Kim Treasure
Start the conversation

The Riverina loves to turn out sporting champions, and we’ve done it again this year.

Count down through 14 of our top sports stories for 2022 and check out who’s on their way up the sporting ladder.

14. Football4all gives everyone a chance to play the beautiful game
by Patrick Morrow

Kids in soccer shirts

Kids from the Football4all program in Wagga. Photo: Supplied.

Wagga’s Football4all program is changing the lives of those who live with a physical or mental disability.

Founded in 2014, the program creates an opportunity for kids of all abilities to play the round-ball game in a fun and inclusive environment that allows them to be themselves.

13. Tarcutta’s new bike jump and pump track a hit with the community
by Shri Gayathirie Rajen

Tarcutta Bike Track

(Left to Right) Council Parks and Recreation assets officer Rob Owers, Tarcutta Progress Association president Sue Hardwick, Wagga City Councillor Amelia Parkins and Tarcutta Progress Association treasurer Kathy Peel with students from Tarcutta Public School at the new jump and pump track. Photo: Wagga City Council.

The Tarcutta community has welcomed its long-anticipated new bike jump and pump track.

The bike track at Paddy Osborne Park was a collaborative effort between the Wagga City Council and Tarcutta Progress Association. They successfully acquired $127,000 in grants from the NSW Government ClubGRANTS program.

12. A swift rise to the top for Wagga netball rookie
by Chris Roe

netball player holding ball

Sophie Fawns has secured a permanent place with the Swifts. Photo: NSW Swifts.

Wagga teenager Sophie Fawns has secured a permanent spot on the Swifts roster for Super Netball in 2023.

The former Kooringal High School student has made her way through the Swifts Academy and debuted for the club in this year’s narrow Round 2 loss to the Melbourne Vixens.

11. Binya boy stars in U18 AFL National Championships
by Oliver Jacques

AFL player Harry Rowston and his dad Phil Rowston

Harry Rowston displays his MVP medal with his dad Phil. Photo: Supplied.

Binya rising star Harry Rowston was awarded “Most Valuable Player” at the U18 AFL National Championships.

As the teen now ambitiously eyes an AFL draft, his mum reveals the efforts of a whole village that supported his journey.

10. The phone call that got the NRL wearing beanies for brain cancer
by Glenn Pallister

Matt Callander and Glenn Pallister at a gala event with wine

A conversation between Matt Callander and Glenn Pallister planted the seed that grew into the NRL’s Beanie Day. Photo: Glenn Pallister.

Former NRL Footy Show boss Glenn Pallister was in Wagga when he got a call from Matt Callander that would begin a quest to battle brain cancer with beanies.

Glenn shares the story of Matt’s fight with cancer and his lasting legacy with the NRL.

9. The fourth-grade goalie who steered South Wagga to its maiden first-grade finals
by Michael Hargreaves

South Wagga’s Dermot ”Derm” Collins was elevated from fourth grade to the Pascoe Cup centre stage. Photo: Pat Flynn.

South Wagga’s Pascoe Cup season is over but, as Michael Hargraves writes, it was an unlikely Irish recruit who helped them to their first finals appearance.

8. Max and Carolyn Sanbrook the pair to beat on the greens at Wagga RSL Bowling Club
by Katrina Condie

Bowling couple

Max and Carolyn Sanbrook share a love of lawn bowls and have been members of the Wagga RSL Bowling Club for more than 20 years. Photo: Adam Drummond.

Max and Carolyn Sanbrook are the couple to beat on the Wagga RSL Bowling Club greens, having taken out the club’s mixed pairs competition nine times.

They’ve been members of the Wagga RSL Club for about 50 years, and members of the bowling club for two decades.

7. Record number of Griffith footballers make National Youth Championship squads
by Oliver Jacques

Eleven Griffith footballers

Griffith’s eleven NSW Country squad representatives at training. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A record contingent of junior Griffith footballers have been selected for NSW Country squads to play in the 2022 National Youth Championship, including Afghan refugee Ali Ali Zada, whose father went through a nightmare journey to give Ali his shot at glory.

Nicholas Codemo, Isaiah Dal Broi, Christian Dall’Est, Kobe Ellis, Isaiah Emery, Jack Jones and William Lancaster made the NSW Country U14 boys team, while Natasha Stradiotto, Phillippa Delgado and Gisella Pangallo made the NSW Country U14 girls squad.

6. ‘Did us proud’: Riverina Samoan community celebrate historic world cup final
by Oliver Jacques

Michael Tomi drapped with the Samoan flag does the thumbs up

Chris Tomi said making the final was a win. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

The Samoan community in Griffith and Wagga held big parades to celebrate their country’s first-ever appearance in the final of a major sporting event – the Rugby League World Cup in England.

Griffith barber Chris Tomi organised a party at Solar Mad Stadium on Saturday while Wagga DJ Centennial Tuvale led a similar event at the Equex Sporting Centre.

5. 92-year-old croquet rookie outguns opponents at Griffith Croquet Club event
by Oliver Jacques

Jean Guiton

Jean Guiton holds her winning ball. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

A 92-year-old croquet rookie has stunned onlookers with her precision ball striking at the Griffith Croquet Club’s social tournament.

Jean Guiton, a retired sheep farmer from Rankins Springs, made her debut in the sport at age 91. But she showed no signs of nerves or inexperience in nailing consecutive hoops and taking out the opening round.

4. Mountain biking: If you plan to tackle Pomingalarna, here’s what you need to know
by Josef Winkler

Mountain Bike

Josef Winkler tackles the track at “Pomi”. Photo: Josef Winkler.

When Australia’s top mountain bikers descended on Wagga for the 2022 AusCycling Marathon National Championships, local enthusiast Josef Winkler took us through the track.

It’s survival of the fittest across 75 km of hard-racing, 25 km laps through twisting single track with about 500 metres of climbing taking in the best of Pomingalarna Park.

3. Murrumbidgee Regional High School year 12 graduate to trial with NRL club Melbourne Storm
by Oliver Jacques

The Liu family dress in black.

Semisi Omega Liu (centre) with his family: Ofa Jr (brother), Ofa Sr (father), Siosiana (mother), Timote (brother). Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Murrumbidgee Regional High School year 12 student Semisi “Omega” Liu is one step closer to his childhood dream, after being invited to trial with National Rugby League (NRL) powerhouse the Melbourne Storm in December.

The 18-year-old, who is of Tongan origin, caught the eye of talent scouts when playing for the Griffith Black and Whites league club.

2. Junee Rugby League greats Daley and Warren reflect on a proud history on pause
by Glenn Pallister

Man and a statue

Laurie Daley with the statue of Ray Warren in Junee. Photo: Laurie Daley.

“Rugby league has given me a lot but it all started with my love for the Junee Diesels” – Laurie Daley speaks with Glenn Pallister about his old club’s Group 9 exit.

1. Memories of when Nick Kyrgios played at Griffith’s MIA Open – and lost
by Oliver Jacques

Sportsmen Mark Ebden and Mark Shanahan

Wodonga’s Mark Shanahan (right) went on to coach Matt Ebden, who won the Wimbledon Doubles this year. Photo: Supplied.

Before he became one of the world’s most controversial sportsmen, Nick Kyrgios dominated tennis tournaments across the Riverina and ACT, winning adult events as a teenager between 2008 and 2012.

But there was one popular venue he was never able to conquer – Griffith.

The Canberra tennis star, now aged 27, played in Griffith’s legendary MIA men’s open singles championship in 2009 and 2010. On both occasions, an Albury-Wodonga player stopped him dead in his tracks.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.