Bangkok, Thailand, December 10, 2020 – After nine months of waiting, an investiture for Mr Tomas Santamaria for his Order of Australia (O.A.M.) was held on Wednesday, December 9 at the Governor’s House in Melbourne, Australia.
It was a personal investiture due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not like a graduation crowd. It was a one-on-one with the Governor of Victoria. His four sons, as the maximum number of people allowed, were with him during the ceremony.
“It was a rare experience and honour. A consolation for everything I have done for my chosen country. I am one of the lucky ones acknowledged,” Tomas was quoted as saying.
Tomas, former Member of FIVB Technical & Coaching Commission and former Chairman of AVC Coaches Committee, has been awarded a Medal of Order of Australia for his years of services to volleyball.
Tomas is widely regarded as the godfather of volleyball in Victoria, Australia. His influence has spanned generations and he remains one of the most significant figures in the history of volleyball in Victoria and a key figure in Australia.
In 1976, the Victoria Amateur Volleyball Association appointed him, the then Philippines National Women’s Coach, to the newly created position of State Coaching Director. The role was the first full time paid position in volleyball in Australia.
Tomas, who coached both Victorian men’s and women’s teams, was the National Men’s Coach for several years, and a highly credentialed referee. He also acted as the senior official at several Australian Junior Volleyball Championships and continued as a coach and referee educator.
The Santamaria name is synonymous with Heidelberg, with Tomas becoming immediately involved with the Club in 1977, relocating his wife, Gloria, and four sons: Jim, James, Geoffrey, and George to Australia. The Club went on to become a powerhouse of State League.
In 2000, Volleyball Victoria inaugurated the Tomas Santamaria Shield, awarded annually to the most successful State League Club across all divisions.
In his numerous capacities, Tomas influenced a generation of volleyballers who themselves carried on his legacy; Affiliate Presidents, Club Coaches, and players alike have all been influenced by and carried on his legacy.
Long-serving Volleyball Victoria President, The Hon Stephen Conroy, cited Tomas as one of his most respected figures in the sport and a major influence on his commitment to volleyball. The sport remains incredibly indebted to Tomas.
For the whole Asian volleyball family, Tomas has played a significant role in the development of volleyball not only in Victoria, but also Australia, his beloved home country Philippines, and the continent’s volleyball-governing body. He has had great impact on mentoring the volleyball community spanning decades and is highly respected for his knowledge, dedication and passion to the sport.
The award was granted on January 26 and the investiture has initially set to be held on March 27, 2020. However, due to the global outbreak, the ceremony took place on December 9.
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