Narre Warren North policeman Vince Manno has been honoured for his community spirit and dedication.
He received the Juan Carlos Loyola Award for Longstanding Community Service on Friday 4 May.
Endeavour Hills man and Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) recipient Mr Loyola has worked tirelessly for more than 25 years with the Doveton Special Soccer School.
This is the seventh year that Narre Warren North MP Luke Donnellan has presented an award in his honour.
Det Lead Sen Const Manno has also used soccer to community benefit.
He was active in re-forming the Victoria Police Soccer Club in 1990 and then in 2001 founded the Soccer COPPS Program.
When the Journal spoke to Det Lead Sen Const Manno in 2016, he said he started the program after seeing the power of sport first-hand during games between Victoria Police’s soccer club and young people.
He said the community youth initiative was an “early intervention strategy” to build bridges between police and young people in a fun way.
He said he wanted to reconnect at-risk young people with their communities.
Mr Loyola said: “Vince’s passion for soccer and supporting young people through soccer for almost 30 years demonstrates immense drive, community spirit and hard work.”
In 2008, Det Lead Sen Const Manno was named the Victorian winner of the Australia Police Multicultural Advisory Bureau Award.
At the time, he told the Journal he helped to run coaching clinics across the state for those who could not readily access mainstream sport.
“They may face a lot of barriers such as registration fees and parental support or other factors may be stopping them from becoming involved,” he said.
Det Lead Sen Const Manno said many of the young women and men he worked with had different perspectives and understandings of police due to their different cultural backgrounds.
He said police had to break down many barriers when working with migrants because some had come from countries where there were very oppressive and brutal regimes.
“The police might have had a military background and they might have been abused either mentally or physically,” he said.
“Soccer and sport is a good vehicle to open up points of discussion and break down some of the barriers.”