For John Tansley, bringing people together in the local sporting community started as a hobby and a passion – now it forms a significant chunk of his livelihood.
John is a long-term member of Beacon Hill Football Club, currently runs Manly United’s Football4All program and alongside Terry Gatward played an integral role in the implementation of defibrillator stations across all MWFA senior venues.
Through his work with ‘Active Opportunities’ under the state-wide ‘Football4All’ banner, Tansley oversees a year-long program coaching children with disabilities at Cromer Park.
In 2016, John expressed his interest in assisting as a volunteer after seeing a promotional flyer for the program.
Four years on he is now in charge of the Northern Beaches branch of the program which has grown to include 30 participants from the age of 5 to 16.
“We’re a little bit more football-based now than we were,” Tansley explains.
“Pre-COVID we were doing boxing and a number of different little activities for fun and to improve the kids’ motor skills.
“Having the chance to see them play football now is the best thing and extremely rewarding for the family and the kids.”
The program’s participants have enjoyed several exciting moments over the last few years.
These span from playing in a 2019 tournament at Valentine Sports Park, joining Manly United’s SAP presentation day and playing at half time of the Pararoos’ 5-0 win over Canada at Cromer Park last December.
John has recruited a number of volunteers from the local football community, many from Beacon Hill FC – who he has represented himself for the last 16 years.
Coming from a rugby background, his football playing days kicked off when a group of parents assembled the club’s first over 35s side back in 2004.
“We put that team together and then strangely enough word got out and within 10 years we had 10 teams at Beacon Hill,” John remembers.
Tansley served as the club’s 35s/45s coordinator and became the first to clock up the milestone of 300 games in that age category.
It was while playing that an observation he made opened the door to a new initiative that he was to play a significant role in getting up and running.
“When we were growing in over age football at Beacon Hill, I saw a bit of a risk with a lot of players aged 35 to 60 running around on a Saturday afternoon – so we started doing some CPR courses at the club,” he recalls.
“And after the second one we did, the penny dropped about DRSABCD and the D standing for defibrillator.
“With an average ambulance wait time of 10 minutes, your chances of survival after three minutes if you get a defib on is 70% and after 10 minutes is about 5%.
“I started talking to a few people and a couple of clubs bought one to pioneer the idea that we all should have one of these.”
While there were a few tragedies along the way, Tansley is proud to share how ZAP stands have now popped up across the Northern Beaches.
“Unfortunately during that development process two people passed away,” he remembers.
“But eventually Terry Gatward and myself got the clubs together and co-funding through MWFA and the clubs allowed us to build 38 portable simulators across the grounds.
“We had our first save in December in the masters competition at Cromer Park. It was a lot better getting that phone call on a Sunday morning phone to say that a life was saved- that was a pretty good moment.”
Tansley also now works for Surf Lifesaving NSW and in 2018 climbed Everest Base camp with a group of ten as a fundraiser for cerebral palsy.
“It was just amazing,” he says. “Obviously it pushes you out of your natural environment for nine days trekking up and only four days back. It’s a lot easier going downhill right!”
While like all he has had to overcome COVID-related challenges to resume the Football4All program, John is not planning on giving up any of his service any time soon.
“I just enjoy bringing people together for a common community cause,” he reflects.
“I strongly believe I receive much more than I invest, it is so rewarding and you meet so many wonderful people along the way.”
Tansley has his eye set on delivering participants with an experience they will never forget.
“My goal, which might not seem like a huge one, is that I’d like to take our kids to a regional centre for an away trip when we’re allowed to do it next year,” he shares.
“I would love to spend a little bit of money in the country and play against the Wagga Wagga Football4All team as a road trip.
“I think it would be a brilliant experience for the kids to go out there and represent Manly.”
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