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National Volunteer Week | Dr Stephen Giugni OAM

National Volunteer Week | Dr Stephen Giugni OAM

Stephen Giugni has been travelling to the biggest events in the ParaVolley world for over 20 years.

Stephen commenced his association with World ParaVolley almost 25 years ago, in preparation for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

Since then, he has worked as a referee, referee observer, referee delegate and is passionate about developing the officials that have the role to present and promote our athletes.

For over a decade, Stephen has assisted in the development of Beach ParaVolley, most recently as the Assistant Sport Director, Beach ParaVolley, including supporting the application for the inclusion of Beach ParaVolley in the Paralympic Games. Stephen was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2016 and was recognised by World ParaVolley with a Distinguished Service Award in 2022, and is currently the international body’s Sport Director.

In the midst of National Volunteer Week, we caught up with Stephen to find more about the integral role of ParaVolley officiating, why he stays involved and why more should.

When did you first become involved in ParaVolley officiating?

It was in 1999. As part of preparing for Sydney 2000, I completed my international referee course at the Southern Cross Games, our Australian Paralympic test event.

You’ve had the privilege of travelling the globe to referee at the biggest events on the ParaVolley calendar. Where has the game take you and what roles have you performed?

Paris will be my fifth Paralympic Games. I was a referee at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, London 2012 and Rio 2016 as a referee, and Paris will be my first as a referee coach, now that I have retired from refereeing.

Over the last 25 years, I have participated in a number of international ParaVolley events including five World Championships, Zonal Championships as a referee, and a number of events as referee delegate or referee coach for Sitting Volleyball. I was also the Technical Delegate for the first World ParaVolley Beach ParaVolley event held in China in 2019.

What was it like to learn that you’d be off to Paris 2024?

It’s always an honour and pleasure to be selected for the Paralympic Games. These are our highest profile events that allow our athletes to showcase their skills and capabilities and passion, and so being a part of this is a very special opportunity.

Sport obviously cannot take place without officials and volunteers of all kinds. This is even moreso in Para sports. What advice would you give to someone thinking about whether they should become involved or not?

Take the chance… get involved. There are so many ways to make a difference, either on court as a referee or scorer or line judge, or in more technical roles as a jury or technical delegate or referee delegate. There’s so many other supporting administrative functions, there are so many opportunities to make a difference and share the passion and excitement of elite sports people.

What’s the biggest thing the sport has given back to you for all the time you have given up for the sport?

It’s the friendships, meeting people from all over the world, learning about new places and people, building lifelong relationships – its truly amazing. And building new skills and knowledge in refereeing, coaching people, learning from others and coming up with new ideas that can make the sport better by working with some wonderful people.

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