ST FRANCIS College PDHPE teacher James Sullivan has received a special accolade that he said means plenty.
Sullivan was recently named the NSW/ACT secondary school ambassador as part of 2021's AFL NSW/ACT volunteer of the year awards.
He was nominated for the honour by AFL NSW/ACT staff member Che Jenkins.
"I didn't actually know he had nominated me until he called me to tell me I had won," Sullivan said.
"It was pretty surprising. I think Trav Doyle (also a St Francis College teacher) has won it before.
"You don't do it for these sorts of things, but it is a nice thing to get recognition."
Sullivan has worked at St Francis College for seven years and said teaching PDHPE was something he took great pride in.
"Working closely with the students and creating good relationships with them is something I love doing," he said.
"It's fun to be able to get out and coach teams that we take part in as a school, especially if we can get them to a representative level, but it's all about the kids and nurturing their talents.
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"We've had some pretty big sporting successes come from our school in recent years, particularly in the AFL area."
Head of AFL NSW/ACT Tiffany Robertson said people like Sullivan helped to enhance the game and encouraged others to get involved.
"Well done to all our winners in the volunteer of the year awards," she said.
"Without the efforts of countless volunteers across our code, our game would not be as accessible and enjoyable as what it is today."
Earlier this year Sullivan coached the under 15s girls NSW Combined Catholic Colleges team to a state championship.
The team featured three St Francis College students in Timeeka Coleman, Imogen Bonny and Emily Baulch.
"That was a huge effort from the girls and that side," Sullivan said.
With sport such a crucial part of life, Sullivan hoped through his role as a teacher at St Francis that students would take some of what they learn into their future lives.
"It's such an important message to be active, especially when you leave school," he said.
"Sport teaches us so much about life. Things like resilience, the importance of team work, working hard and not giving up.
"It's all really important."
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