Cowra's Sportsperson of the Year awards return

Gus Worland, founder of Gotcha4Life, will be the SOTY guest speaker this year. Picture Simon Bennett.
Gus Worland, founder of Gotcha4Life, will be the SOTY guest speaker this year. Picture Simon Bennett.

With a global pandemic cancelling Cowra's sporting night of nights in 2020, this year's Sportsperson of the Year Awards (SOTY) are set to look a little different.

This year a decision has been made to combine the 2019/20 and 2020/21 finalists into a celebration fitting of the 40th awards.

SOTY committee member Lloyd Garratt said while the last 12 months had been challenging, it was pleasing to be celebrating the town's sporting success again.

"With sports being stop start, it has been difficult to identify monthly winners," he said.

"But I think given the circumstances we've done a good job. Not only from a committee point of view but a Cowra sporting community view, who have done well to get their sports up and running during this period."

The combination of the awards means instead of the usual 12 monthly finalists, 16 outstanding sportspeople will be recognised.

Fellow committee member, Lisa Robertson, said there was an exciting field of monthly winners.

"It's a really diverse group in these awards," she said.

"Particularly Robert Van Dyke with stock horse riding, we've never had that before.

"We've had Guy Hubbard and hang-gliding a few times, but overall it is a good, broad range of sports and ages.

"I'm really excited, because we have a good, young group, they will have a long connection to local sport and have opportunities to go a long way, which also gives us a really tough job selecting the scholarship winner," she said.

The other big change in this year's awards will be the guest speaker.

While the guest speaker is traditionally a former sportsperson themselves, this year the committee has branched out, securing television and radio personality Gus Worland.

While Mr Worland is a sporting fanatic, hosting the 'Cricket Tragic' and holding a regular spot on Fox's 'The Back Page', he is also a strong mental health advocate founding Gotcha4Life after hosting the 2016 ABC series 'Man Up'.

'Man Up' explored modern masculinity and men's mental health issues - challenging masculine stereotypes and getting men better connected and breaking the silence around suicide.

Gotcha4Life encourage Australians to speak up, express their emotions and ensure they all have a close friend in life that they can go to when times are tough.

In doing so the foundation funds sustainable educational workshops, training programs and products building mental fitness in communities across Australia, to enable strong, open and binding relationships.

Mr Garratt said it was an exciting prospect having Mr Worland speak.

"It is the first year where we haven't had a quest speaker who is a retired sportsperson," he said.

"We've looked outside the box, with Gus being a more of a mentoring role for the kids.

"He'll talk about his foundation, Gotcha4Life, and on how to deal with the successes and failures within the sporting world."

Mr Garratt said he hoped the community would enjoy Mr Worland's presentation.

"It's something new for SOTY so it will be interesting to see how well it is received by the sporting community," he said.

"But feedback, whether it's positive or negative will always be great."

The Sportsperson of the Year Awards will be held at 6pm on Friday, June 18, at the Cowra Services Club.

Tickets are $40 and are on sale now at the club during business hours.