Gippstar 2023

The 63rd Annual Gippstar Awards were held on Thursday 10th August at the Morwell Bowling Club.   100 guests attended representing sportspersons, teams and clubs from all over Gippsland enjoying a buffet meal before award presentations were made.   The MC for the evening was Judi Buhagiar, Netball Victoria Eastern Region Manager and awards were presented by various dignitaries from Gippsland’s Local Government Authorities.

The Gippstar Awards have a long and proud history and recognise high level sporting achievements by talented Gippslander’s across a variety of different sporting pursuits.  This year swimming, clay target shooting, netball, hockey, athletics, archery, WAFL, rowing, lawn bowls, veteran’s cricket, cross country, modern pentathlon/tetrathlon, surf lifesaving beach sprint and flags, golf-croquet, bocce-rafa, showjumping, croquet are some of the sports that were represented.

There were 24 awards received by the successful nominees for the monthly awards from July 2022-June 2023 in both Open and Junior categories.

The overall winner for the Annual Open Award was Paige Barr from Eastwood in East Gippsland, for her sport of Rowing.   Paige was unable to attend due to her training schedule in Sydney.  Her mum, Naomi proudly accepted the award on her behalf and spoke of Paige’s journey and achievements.

The Annual Junior Award winner was Lucas Furlan from Traralgon, for his sport of Clay Target Shooting.  Lucas had recently returned from Korea and Spain where he was competing and was surprised to receive this award.   Lucas recently attended the World Universal Trap Championships in Spain as part of the Australian Under 21 Team, the team was successful in defending their World Championship Title from last year winning the gold medal.   Lucas also won the bronze medal in the individual section of the under 21’s with a great score of 192/200, just 2 targets behind the winning Italian shooter.

Each year Gippstar has four additional awards.

  • Gippstar Team of the Year:

Given to a Gippsland Team based on their performance over the Gippstar year.

This year we have a tie in this category, and the winners are:

Gippsland All Abilities Netball Team; and Sale United Football Club Women’s Team

Gippsland All Abilities Netball Team were Division 1 State Title Winners.

On Sunday October 2, all abilities team competed at the Netball State Titles at the Melbourne sports centre in Parkville. The team went into the Grand final undefeated and won the Grand final 12 to 8. This was an incredible achievement from an amazing group of young adults with a range of disabilities. They worked together so well and put 100% effort in. Coached by Emma Smith, who brought out the very best in each of the players, supported them through the self-doubts and during the game with so much noise, activity and people around them which was very challenging for some just being in that busy environment.

Sale United Football Club Women’s Team had a standout year in the Latrobe Valley Soccer League. The team won the 2022 League Cup Grand Final. Firstly, they won the quarterfinal 5-1 then the semi-final 4-3 to progress to the final where they dominated to win 6-0. The team had players ranging from fifteen years old to fifty-two, with a mix of very experienced players through to brand new to the sport. They gelled as one champion team where each player learned from the other to create one cohesive unit. Coach, Madelaine Breakspear, was named as Football Victoria’s Community Coach of The Year for 2022 for her success with this squad. The team recently won the 2023 Kendall Cup 5-1 after being runner-up in 2022.

  • Gippstar Club of the Year:

Given to a Gippsland club based on their club achievements over the Gippstar year.

This was awarded to Falcons 2000 Soccer Club

In the year 2022, the club with the richest history in Gippsland Region, continued to create just that, history – both Senior Men’s AND Senior Women’s League Champions!   At the start of the year, our founder and massive contributor to the area, Don Di Fabrizio sadly passed away. As a club, we set out to complete the greatest possible feat, to win the league championship. Our Senior men completed this on the last day of the season, which was their 4th title in the last 7 years, whilst in what was a massive achievement our Senior Women won their inaugural league title lead by Denis Demosthenous and Sheeny Whadcoat, both massive advocates for Women and women in sport.

  • Gippstar Special Achiever Award:

Provided for outstanding service to sport over a significant period of years.

This was awarded to Lesa Fraser from Mirboo North for her service at Baromi Tennis Club

Lesa is a fantastic volunteer! She has been involved as secretary for over 10 years and was recently awarded life membership for her extraordinary efforts. She has run our community’s successful            night tennis competition for many years as well as the juniors in the local association competition. I   think that she deserves her hard work and efforts to be recognized further and wider as she is an    amazing volunteer who does so much for the club.

  • Gippstar Gippsland Champion:

To receive this award the athlete must have commenced their sporting career with a Gippsland Club and/or Association and continued to achieve in their sport outside of the Gippsland area, whilst maintaining family connections in Gippsland.

This was awarded to Aoife Coughlan from Traralgon for her sport Judo.

Aoife was unable to attend the awards and proud mum Jean accepted the award on her behalf. She talked about Aoife’s fantastic progression in the sport to become an Olympian.

Aoife Coughlan started judo at the age of 5.  From 2014 to 2020 Coughlan studied Exercise Science/Sport & Recreation Management Student at Victoria University, and when she wasn’t studying or training, she was coaching Judo.   In her junior years Coughlan won many regional medals and titles, she also was able to compete at the World Junior Championships. In 2015 she won the Oceanian cadet title and later went on to win the Oceanian Junior Championship which she had also won back in 2011.   Since then Aoife has won bronze at the 2017 European Cup in Bratislava, Taipei Open, Hong Kong’s 2018 Asian Open and the 2019 European Open in Prague.   In early 2021, the 25-year-old placed fifth at the prestigious Doha Masters, the toughest event on the international judo calendar after the Olympic Games and World Championships. Aiofe went on to claim bronze at the 2021 Asian-Pacific Judo Championships in the women’s -70kg category. She made her Olympic debut at the age of 25 at the Tokyo Olympic Games competing in the Women’s -70kg division. She advanced to the round of 16 after a first-round victory against Kinaua Biribo of Kiribati, but could not overcome her next opponent, Giovanna Scoccimarro of Germany.  Aoife is currently ranked #9 on the World Ranking List U70Kg.   Her next international events are Panamerican/Oceania Championships in Calgary Canada and Grand Slam in Baku, Azerbaijan in September.   While doing this she is completing a degree in Exercise Science Clinical Practice at VU, leading to a Masters in Exercise Physiology, having already completed a double degree in Exercise Science Human Movement/Sports Management.   She trains at Resilience Training Centre in Footscray and at the National Performance Centre at the VIS in Albert Park.


Congratulations to all the award recipients.


July and August nominations for Gippstar are now open and will close on the 5th of September 2023.   If you would like to recognise the sporting achievements of a Gippsland athlete, coach, administrator or official (amateur of professional), nomination forms can be downloaded from Gippsland Sports Academy webpage: