A PASSION for ensuring young adults have the opportunity to play a “decent sport” has kept Noel Cocking involved in the Bill Turner Cup for the past 38 years.
The North Lambton resident was teaching at Kotara High when he began coaching a soccer team in the combined high schools’ Tasman Cup competition.
“I got to know Bill Turner fairly well through that,” Mr Cocking, 80, said.
“He wanted to introduce a 15 years-and-under competition.”
The Tasman Cup coaches came together to establish the Bill Turner Cup. Many years later, Mr Cocking still enjoys bringing it all together each and every year.
He said it was his belief that soccer was - and still is - the number one game that has kept him going.
“Well it is the ‘world game’,” he laughed.
“More than 220 countries compete for the World Cup, whereas other games are restricted to Australia and a few other countries.
“I think it’s a game of skill. As I say, anybody can pick up a ball and run with it, but to try to control it with your feet and weave around among other players and put it in a goal mouth, that requires a lot of skill.”
Throughout the years, Mr Cocking has coached teams in the Bill Turner Cup, he has been an area manager in Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and the Upper Hunter for the competition, and he is now the state manager of the northern areas of NSW.
He had written a code of behaviour for the competition, and also makes up draws and collects registration forms.
He said it would be nice if they could attract a sponsor for the competition. Anyone interested could get in touch via.billturnersoccer.com.au.
Mr Cocking was honoured for his dedication with a long service plaque at the most recent Bill Turner final presentation.
“Trying to get volunteers for anything these days is rather difficult,” he said.
“But I like it. It keeps me occupied now that Ina is gone, it keeps me off the streets.”
Mr Cocking was a carer for his late wife, Ina, for 16 years.
“She developed bipolar, and had some falls, and got brain damage and so forth and gradually deteriorated,” he said.
“She had a stroke last November and passed away.”
Together they had two children, and five grandkids - all of whom had played the great game.
“I like to call it the spherical ball game,” he laughed.
“I dislike this ‘round ball’ term. I refer to the other ones as the egg ball games.”
But as well as soccer, Mr Cocking had also been involved in swimming, having served as president of Wallsend Warriors Amateur Swimming Club for six years.