If you’ve had anything to do with junior rugby league in Dubbo for the best part of the last two decades then you’ll know Neil Millgate.
A part of the game as much as a ball or the posts in these parts, Millgate has put years of work into the game he loves.
The tireless efforts of the president of the Dubbo and District Junior Rugby League was recognised last week when he was handed the NSW Office of Sport Volunteer award.
Local member Troy Grant described as Millgate as “one of the best” volunteers going around while the man himself was almost lost for words.
“It’s very flattering but you don’t look for these. You just do it because of the people around you,” he said.
Millgate said he didn’t think much of what he did from week-to-week in rugby league as in “the old days” everyone got in, helped out and took time to look after young kids.
One thing he was proud of was the fact junior rugby league and other sports like netball and soccer were keeping children “off the streets” and putting them in a positive team environment.
“It’s good fun and it’s enjoyable,” he said of his role.
“You can go and ask people for things in junior league and people are happy to help when you’re doing it for kids.
“And we’re lucky to have organisations like Sport and Rec and the Country Rugby League and NRL based here in Dubbo and we’ve just got to keep going ahead and hope there’s people to take over when we’re done to keep kids playing sport.”
The award is a state government prize, handed over in conjunction with NSW Sport and Recreation
“It probably recognises some unsung heroes who don’t do their work for any recognition or acknowledgement and that’s what Neil is about,” Grant said.
“I had experience when I first came to town in 2006 my young bloke played for South Dubbo so I got to see firsthand what he (Millgate) did and the volume of work and hours of dedication and passion he put in was just incredible.
“He’s got a great vision for junior rugby league and I’m not sure where the game would be without him.
“There’s so many great people in our community but Neil is at the top of the tree when it comes to volunteering, there’s no doubt about it.”
Millgate has seen plenty of changes in his time and the game and confessed there are “headaches” at times but there is no doubting the quality of work he has done in the job.
As well as keeping the game going and doing the day-to-day activities that need to be done, Millgate has always been looking for ways to move the game forward.
An example of that was when he helped start and develop the Dubbo City Junior Rugby League Club and the Magpies have already gone on to play in grand finals.