TWO West Australians, Football Hall of Fame WA inductee Dylan Tombides and former Matildas star Collette McCallum, have had national awards named after them.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) announced the introduction of the new awards to recognise players representing Australia’s junior national teams.
FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said the awards would celebrate the overall conduct and commitment of a player representing an Australian junior team and that Tombides, who died of testicular cancer in 2014 at the age of 20, and McCallum exemplified the standards, commitment and courage.
“Dylans was a superb talent whose performances for Australia at youth level caught the attention of the Australian football community. He was tragically lost to cancer and his name will forever be associated with immense talent, sacrifice and inspiration,” said Nikou.
“Collette was also an incredibly talented young footballer who set the on-field standards that we now see from today’s Matildas. Testament to this is that no footballer, outside of our current crop of emerging players, has represented Australia more times at youth international level.”
PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said the Dylan Tombides Medal will be inaugurated and awarded annually to recognise an Australian male footballer as selected from the Under 17 (Joeys), Under 20 (Young Socceroos) and Under 23 (Olyroos) teams.
Similarly, the Collette McCallum Medal will be awarded to the best female player from the Under 17 (Westfield Junior Matildas) and Under 20 (Westfield Young Matildas) teams.
“There is no greater thrill for a player than putting on the green and gold for the first team, so it is wonderful to be able to formally recognise those young players who are hoping to create history, whilst acknowledging two players in Dylan and Collette who have added their own pages to the game’s story,” said Didulica.
Dylan’s mother, Tracey Tombides, said it was a tremendous honour for all of the family.
“To have Dylan recognised by Australian Football for his devotion and talent in the sport he truly lived for is a great privilege. We are hugely thankful to the FFA and PFA for making this happen,” she said.
It is proposed that each year, the head coaches of each national team will nominate two stand-out players and a panel of former players will recommend which player should be considered for the medal. The recommended players will be presented to FFA’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Executive of the PFA for ratification.
The inaugural Tombides and McCallum honours will be awarded at the PFA’s annual awards event, the Alex Tobin Medal, later this year.
Dylan was posthumously inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA in 2016.
He played five times for the Australian U-17s, including the World U-17 Cup in Mexico, and four times for the U-23s in the Asian Championship.
He was a junior with Perth SC and Stirling Lions and joined English side West Ham in 2010, starring in the youth and reserve sides and making one senior appearance.
His parents established the DT38 charitable foundation to make young people aware of testicular cancer. West Ham recently honoured the West Aussie by establishing the Dylan Tombides Learning Centre at the club’s Academy of Football.
Collette, who was born in Glasgow, came to WA as a youngster and quickly made her mark on the local football scene, going on to play for Perth Glory in the W-League and representing Australian youth teams 19 times.
She also played 81 times for the Matildas before injury forced her retirement. She has gone on to coach with the Glory’s women’s team and the WA State women’s side.