The achievements of the region’s young people are set to be celebrated during this year’s Youth Week and Wollongong City Council is searching for new honourees who are thriving.
Nominations are open for the annual awards for people aged between 12 and 24 across a range of categories: Volunteer, Sportsperson, Performer, Artist, Community Ambassador, Environmentalist and Small Business.
Zinah Hasan was ‘over the moon’ when she received the Young Sportsperson award at last year’s ceremony.
The 21-year-old moved to Australia from the Middle East 10 years ago and has found increasing success playing competitive football which has helped her build friendships within her community, and life skills.
“It’s something about the sport, I can’t describe it in words, it’s just the magic and the effect it has,” Zinah said.
“If it wasn’t for football I actually wouldn’t be the kind of person I am.
“You have to be a pretty confident person, you have to be outgoing, because for you to be a great football player you need to have great communication skills, you need to lead on the field and all these qualities you can gain and achieve just by playing the game.”
Being recognised reflected her years of hard work and dedication but it also helps to inspire others.
“It is quite hard to go for what you want if you don’t see someone else do it,” she said.
“For a girl who is breaking pretty much all the stereotypes and all the opinions, to be doing what I am with football and gain this award, it sends an important message and statement to all other girls that they can do it as well.”
She said the awards were a great opportunity to recognise young people for their individual talents and skills.
“You can be good at many things – it doesn’t have to be sports; it can be business or volunteering or anything you want and to be recognised for that makes you feel like you’re doing something right,” she said.
“You don’t have to be copying other people or doing the exact same as them – recognising young people doing their own thing just makes them even thrive more because we are the future.”
Zinah has completed her Bachelor of International Studies and is studying a Master of Marketing, all while competing in the NPL2 with the South East Phoenix Football Club in Nowra.
And with the support of her community, she’s determined to keep pursuing her sporting dream and help others do the same.
“Awards like this to actually encourage and support young people, they’ll only achieve more, they’ll only want to do more,” she said.
“For example, me getting recognised, it only drives me to push harder for NPL1 and A-league and get other girls to play football as well.”
You can nominate yourself or someone you know through the Wollongong City Council website.
Nominations close on Friday 29 March, with winners to be announced in April.