David Richards, Canberra’s oldest registered football player, has decided to hang up his boots at the age of 81. Entering into the sport late, at age 25 did not deter him from enjoying over fifty years of playing.
His secret? Well, according to his wife, a healthy lifestyle and a good woman behind him.
“The love of the game and probably good genes as well have kept me going,” he said.
“One of the major things is the soccer community is more like a family. Even when you are playing games against other teams, everybody seems to know everybody. It’s a good group. The club really is the people.”
Despite spending most of his time in football as a player, David spent 20 years coaching age groups from the under 6s to the Premier League. He said he is glad that there are now more opportunities for youth development today.
“I really enjoyed coaching the Premier League guys, though sometimes I wondered what I could teach them because they were so good,” he joked.
“There seems to be more pathways now for kids, and I think there is a chance for the talented ones to move into professional teams.”
David has inspired many during his time at Brindabella Blues FC. Club President Ken Yalg said he has not only been an inspiration to Ken himself, but also his teammates and across the entire club.
“Dave has meant a lot to the boys, especially the over 45s, 55s and now 60s as well. He has been a leader to them. I think Dave has scored a goal just about every year, through play not penalties so that’s been a bonus. Basically he keeps everybody else feeling young.
“He’s the inspiration for the players to keep playing. He contributes to the conversation and he’s got plenty of stories. He’s got one for every week, which is fantastic.
“The biggest thing that inspires me personally about Dave is that being a life member you don’t have to pay to play football. However, he still pays his fees which then pays for two young kids to play which goes to charity. We call it Dave’s charity.”
Even though David will be sorely missed as a player for the Blues, he will continue to lead by example, maintaining passion for all levels of the game, including actively supporting up and coming players.
“When we do ceremonies we have long term awards, we show the generations of players with Dave standing next to an under 6. We’re trying to show that the club caters to all age groups. We made him a life member ten years ago and it was an expression from us to him to say keep going, keep playing, keep being part of the club and he’s more than enjoyed that”.
Dave was given a fitting send off on Sunday, at the intra-club round robin tournament.