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Joan Vosnakes - A Different Type of Tiger Mum

​​Presented by Tiger champion, Tony 'Aussie' Wynd

The Tigerette’s Matriarch


Joan Vosnakes

Team Manager - 2010 onwards

Division 2 Premierships – 2013, 2014, 2015

1st Grade Premierships – 2017, 2019

Wall of Fame Induction – 2022

Tigerettes Most Promising Player is named after Joan

Integral Part of the Management and Development of the Tigerettes Program

It is a factual statement that Joan Vosnakes has been the Tigers Women’s Team(s) Manager since the program began and is now in her 15th year and counting. Joan would tell you that it is also a factual statement that she is ‘just doing her job’ in looking after and supporting the players. In bare facts, this would all be true.

However, these facts would not convey the respect, love and affection that the Tigers Women’s teams have for her, nor the impact Joan has had on the so many players as Joan has gone above and beyond normal expectations in that role. These are better expressed in statements from current and former players, which are summarised by ‘not sure there are enough words, or the right ones, to describe this incredible woman, and what she means to the girls.’

While also involved with the Waratahs Netball cCub and the Queanbeyan Netball Association Committee for 20 years, Joan was first involved with the Tigers when her sons started playing junior football. Both Steve and Dave played from Under 9s through to the Under 18s. After one year of watching junior football with husband Nick, they both volunteered to join the Junior Tigers Committee. They were soon making friends with other parents on the committee such as Gordon and Pam Evans, Ian and Judy Cawse, Pat and Stitch Storen, Bernie and Gillian McInnes, Sandy Dwyer and Harry Statos. One of Joan’s roles during their dozen or so years on the Junior Committee was to run the canteen at Margaret Donohoe Sportsground for senior home games where the best sellers were the special steak sandwiches. Joan says this was due to her secret gourmet red wine marinade.

Nick also spent some time as a goal umpire for the Under 18s games before, in the late 1990s, swapping the flags for the slightly warmer confines of the timekeepers’ box, assisting the indefatigable long-term incumbent Wally Thompson. While Wally has recently stepped down from the box, Nick is still in the role today and is now supported by the legendary Noel Miller, who was the much-loved and respected Tigers Senior Men’s Team Manager for an astonishing 37 years.

When the Women’s program was launched in 2010, Joan mentioned to Ron Fowlie, ‘if you want some help with the women’s team, I can do something’. Chook’s response was to quickly state ‘Joan, you would be a bloody good Team Manager’. (Yes, even Chook can make the right call occasionally.) So, Joan joined forces with inaugural Women’s Team Coach, Dave Matthews, and a bunch of eager young women on the first season women’s competition for the Tigers. Joan is ‘very pleased and proud’ of how the program has developed ever since.

In that time, Joan has become, in the words of the players, ‘everyone’s football mum’ and ‘the Tigerettes matriarch’. They emphasise that Joan is ‘constantly taking care of the needs of every player from the moment they walk into the club. Not only does she welcome you on your first day, but she also looks after you every week and still supports you when you have left the club’. Club General Manager and current Women’s Head Coach, Adrian Pavese, says that Joan has ‘60 grand-daughters’ and ‘treats all the players like family’.

Joan will regularly message new, old and injured players, just to check they are ok and offer help if required. The ‘smorgasbord of sandwiches and home baked treats after every game,’ the ‘jerseys being washed in the most delicious smelling detergent’ are also mentioned by the players as indicators of Joan’s generosity and care.

Another example of Joan’s thoughtfulness is when Lon Flakelar joined the club. While Lon was too shy to say anything at the time, Joan learnt that Lon’s father, Darcy, had also played at the club. Joan quickly arranged for Lon to wear her dad’s number 16 jumper. This is something Joan (and the club as a whole) tries to do with any player with a family history at the club.

Over the years, the Women’s Coaches have also benefited from Joan’s support to the extent that three in particular, Chris Clifton, Kenny Sissons and Andrew Harvey, have a running competition to be recognised as Joan’s favourite and ‘number one son’. Kenny is, apparently, the current clubhouse leader after calling Joan on Mother’s Day. (Luckily, her real sons are adults and can cope with being relegated to number 4 and 5.)

Joan says she loves being involved with the players who ‘all bring a smile to my face’. This is quickly demonstrated firsthand. We are meeting in the change rooms prior to a training session and there are big, spontaneous smiles all round as the first players walk in and greet Joan.

With the women’s Rising Stars now under the management of the Senior Club, another generous volunteer with family connections, Annette Pavese, has agreed to manage the Division 2 team, with rouseabout assistance from Sandy Dwyer, leaving Joan to focus on the Rising Stars and the Division 1 teams. Joan says this has allowed her to greater assist the junior players in the transition to the senior teams.

Actually, it seems that team management is not enough for Joan, and she also helps out with the group who have taken on the role of ground management at Aulich Park. Joan enjoys working with self-titled ‘A‑team’, including the likes of Darryl Taylor, Steve Grocott, and Fred Gisik, who work on both sides of the fence to present the ground in tremendous condition. Joan’s only concern with the A-team is that Darryl does not seem to be able to mow in a straight line.

The football club has become even more of a family affair in recent times. As well as Joan and Nick’s involvement, Dave is now highly active on the Senior Club Football Committee and Steve is one of the Club’s Sports Trainers. However, Joan’s eye sparkles that little bit more when she mentions that her (real) grand-daughter, Emily, is now playing in the senior program. While, from the age of three, Emily would come along to training and games to help her ‘Bubba’, she was initially a netballer. At the grand old age of 13, Emily switched from netball to football and is now playing Division 1 and is in the GWS Academy squad. (Joan is adamant that it was Emily’s decision to play football and no family pressure was applied at any level.)    

Joan says there is never any discussion at home as to whether to continue the family involvement each year. “Everyone just assumes we will continue. We all love it’.

Joan cites the 2018 introduction of a second Division for the Women’s Program as a major catalyst for the improvement of the program along with the efforts and dedication of the Coaches over the seasons. She loves the approach that sees the women training and treated as ‘all one group’ until the teams are picked for each game and then straight after the games ‘we are back to one group’.

Joan also emphasises that a very significant factor for the Women’s Program was how hard the club worked to ‘provide the girls with their own space’ which was achieved in 2020. Indeed, the women’s facilities at the home of the Tigers are remarkable in comparison to most other community football clubs. In addition to providing changeroom, training and coaching facilities, these resources are an essential element in the integration of the women’s program.

Joan stresses that it is the ‘whole club and all the volunteers that make the Tigers special. All the people here are beautiful people who all get along so well together. We have fun all the along the way’. She adds that ‘even though Chook is a pain in the butt, we all still talk to him’. On a more serious note, Joan notes that many players joining the club, including those from the Defence Force, comment on the culture, support, and facilities at the club.

Once the contest is on though, Joan is no shrinking violet. There seems to be an element of white line fever and she is heavily invested in the outcome of every game. Joan has also been known to give the team a pre-game rev-up on the field and many players remember that ‘with fire in her belly, Joan would say things that shouldn’t be repeated – but they got us all fired up’.

Apparently, Joan does not hide her feelings well, and there has been some highly memorable sideline commentary in close games for those within earshot.

Joan has greatly enjoyed the on-field progress and success of the teams and the joy experienced by all involved. In particular, she fondly recalls the 2022 season when she ‘had a feeling’ that the Tigers could eventually overcome the undefeated Ainslie team. Throughout the season, as the results got closer with each game against the Tricolours, she regularly mentioned to the coaches and players that ‘the gap is getting smaller, and we will get them in the grand final’. The record books now show that Joan was 100% correct.

As rumor has it, Joan loves guava cruisers and celebrated that premiership, as per other successes, by sipping a bottle or two of the vodka-based tipple. I am informed that there was one grand final celebration in recent years when the licensed club ran out of guava cruisers - noting they are delivered in cases of 24.

Above all, throughout her time as Team Manager, and the ups and downs on the field, Joan Vosnakes has been a practical and emotional support for so many Tigers players. Whether it was a football issue, a work or a personal issue, Joan has been a willing listener, a shoulder to cry on and/or a source of sound advice.

A group of current and former players concluded their comments with, ‘Joan is the most selfless person in Queanbeyan with the amount of time she gives up for the club – she goes above and beyond for her Tigers family. She is, and always will be, the backbone of the Tigerettes’.

While she is factually correct when she says that she is ‘a bit embarrassed because everyone involved in the club deserves credit’, the contribution and impact of Joan Vosnakes to the women’s program and club overall is outstanding and invaluable.

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