Ethan Brierly – Onehunga Mangere United AFC (OM) Club | Faces of Auckland Sport and Recreation Volunteers

Published on Tuesday 20 June, 2023
OM Football (2)

For many sports and recreation volunteers, being part of a club is a family affair that’s been passed down from generation to generation.

That’s certainly the case for Ethan Brierly, a stalwart of the Onehunga Mangere United AFC (OM) club who’s been involved since he was old enough to kick a football.

“I've started playing at OM when I was four - so 29 years ago,” says Ethan. “I was at the club before I started playing, too. My parents were playing and volunteering at OM, so I pretty much grew up here and played through the grades.”

Ethan took the first steps in his volunteering journey in his mid-teens, stepping up to coach OM junior teams while balancing his own playing commitments.   

“Some junior teams didn't have coaches and we didn't want to turn anyone away,” says Ethan. “After I started coaching, the president at the time convinced me to get on the committee, and I've never really looked back since.”

Ethan has gone on to volunteer as the Club Captain, and Club Chairman. “I've managed senior grade football teams too. I was the women's first team coach last season, and this year I am the manger for the men's first and reserves team, and also Club President - so a bit of everything!”

He describes OM as a small to medium sized club, but one which is growing quickly. “We have a real family feel here. We have just over 500 members now, and that’s growing – we're putting a lot of effort into our junior and youth and women's programmes at the moment, which is paying off.”

Keeping this growth going requires support from a wide range of volunteers, Ethan continues. “There are 12 of us on the committee, plus there are a lot of people in and around us who volunteer. All our junior coaches and managers are volunteers as well.”

“I'm the second generation involved in the club from my family, and my kids are now the third generation. It's important to pass that on and keep it going. The kids are the future of football… It's not just what they learn about the game, too: they can learn a lot of life skills. That's what was passed on to me, and we want to pass that on to juniors at OM, too.”

According to Ethan, the one thing he loves about volunteering is “keeping the club alive, and keeping the OM family connection going. I like being at the club on Saturday game days, hanging out and watching a few games of footy and talking to the kids and the adults.”

Volunteering in sport and recreation in Auckland is a truly rewarding activity, and something that Ethan encourages everyone to “get involved” in, no matter how much time they can spare.

“Without volunteers these clubs won't happen. It takes an effort from the community to keep it going. Honestly, even if it's running the sausage sizzle on a Saturday, it all makes a huge difference in keeping the clubs going and getting the kids out on the field, learning and having fun.”

Aktive and One New Zealand are thrilled to be working together to celebrate our awesome volunteers who make Auckland sport and recreation possible. 
Volunteers generously give their time, knowledge, and skills to community sport and recreation, making for a happier, healthier Tāmaki Makaurau.  
If you’re interested in volunteering, have a chat with your local sports club or recreation group – we’re sure your support will be hugely appreciated!