Long-serving Ipswich Netball Association president Gail Lyne has been awarded a Queensland Service to Sport Award.
Long-serving Ipswich Netball Association president Gail Lyne has been awarded a Queensland Service to Sport Award. David Nielsen

Gail's 50 years of service honoured with elite award

AS one of Ipswich's most successful administrators Gail Lyne is highly regarded for her passion and leadership.

An ability to implement change is another quality on her impressive list of attributes.

So it's fitting the loyal Ipswich Netball Association president has been honoured with a Service to Sport accolade at the latest Queensland Sports Awards.

Careful not to drop the beautiful glass trophy, Booval resident Lyne was clearly proud being recognised for her 50 year association with netball.

"It was a wonderful night,'' Lyne said, having soaked up the atmosphere at the major presentation function in Brisbane.

"I'm over the moon.''

Appreciative of those who have shared in her remarkable sporting journey, Ipswich born and bred Lyne said the award meant so much.

"It's people out there actually seeing what we've done over the years,'' she said.

That includes maintaining and upgrading Ipswich's netball headquarters, providing a hub for 1500 junior and senior players to enjoy the benefits of a popular team sport.

When the former St Mary's student played for a club side named Spectrum, netball was vastly different.

Growing up in Woodend, she used to catch a train to Bundaberg to play, or hop on the back of a ute to travel for fun weekend matches in Toowoomba and Brisbane.

While fun remains a major priority decades later, Lyne said the financial and time demands provided entirely different challenges.

"It is a business,'' she said.

"People are paying thousands and thousands of dollars to be here and the legalities of everything like safety on the courts and the behaviour of some parents is inexcusable.''

With that comes growing the game.

One change that had to be made was ending a Monday night senior competition when Saturday trading started some years ago.

After trying the new format for quite a few years, the association revitalised the game by scheduling Saturday afternoon fixtures for everyone.

That brought seniors back to help out the juniors with umpiring and coaching.

"We all stood out there on grand final day grinning like anything,'' she said after the bold change paid off.

When she took over the presidency in 1996, Lyne oversaw a major revamp, setting new directions for the association.

She has been president for 21 years after a range of earlier administrative roles including registrar (aged 14), secretary (for five years), representative treasurer (one year), coaching director (four years) and state league co-ordinator (four years).

She was also the inaugural coach of the Ipswich Flyers representative team in 1994, as part of a 20 year stint (1975-95), where she also worked with club sides.

The former representative goal attack has served Netball Queensland in various committee and advisory roles since the 1980s.

Lyne was introduced to netball through her mother Beryl, a former association president for 13 years and her father John, who regularly marked the courts.

As she looks back over her time in the sport, INA life member Lyne smiles with approval.

"Netball has given me so much over the last 50 years as a player, umpire, coach and administrator,'' she said.

"It has given me so many life skills.

"I have met so many wonderful people in all aspects of my involvement in sport and made the best of friends that has enriched my life.''