TRIBUTE TO PHIL GOULD, AM
TRIBUTE TO DON FELTIS, OAM


The Hon. MARIE FICARRA (Parliamentary Secretary) [10.32 p.m.]: The 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List has once again included people who have given of themselves selflessly for community benefit. Our much-loved Governor, Her Excellency Marie Bashir, AD, CVO, who has dedicated her life to others and served our State with distinction, was rightly made a Dame of the Order of Australia. I wish to acknowledge some other fine citizens who I have observed making outstanding contributions. Mr Phil Gould, AM, has made an extraordinary difference to the welfare of children, young people and families, especially in the place he loves so much—Western Sydney. His dedication, generosity and determination to provide services to the community of Western Sydney have been inspiring. Most people think of Phil as a former rugby league great, a league administrator, a journalist and State of Origin and premiership winning coach. Gus Gould, as he is known to his mates, is much more than that. He is a person who truly cares about people, be it struggling young people to whom he extends his hand in support to mentor, or the help he gives to families of those in need who are going through tough times, Phil is always willing to help, encourage and acknowledge others around him.

Phil grew up in Western Sydney and played juniors for Wentworthville Leagues. In 1976 he was selected to represent Penrith in lower grades and by 1979 was elevated to first grade. At 20 years of age Phil made history by becoming the youngest New South Wales Rugby League Premiership captain since David Brown led Easts in the 1930s. Overall, Phil made 104 first grade appearances across four clubs. From these humble beginnings an extraordinary coaching career ensued. Phil coached Canterbury in 1988 and Penrith in 1991 to premiership victories. In 1992 he became State of Origin coach, and the Blues were victorious for the next three series—as they have been tonight. In 1996 the State of Origin side completed a series whitewash, becoming the first and only team to go through a series with the same squad of 17 players. Phil returned to coaching the State of Origin series from 2002 to 2004, winning two series and drawing the third. To date, he has been the most successful State of Origin coach in this State's history—and I know that Gus Gould is very happy tonight with the Blues Origin win.

Phil is Penrith through and through, and adored by hundreds of thousands of Penrith supporters who love the game. He answered their call and returned to Penrith in 2011 to help the club. With the exemplary leadership of Don Feltis, OAM, and Phil the club has thrived. Apart from inspiring the footballers and fans of the club with his ability to motivate and teach, Phil, together with Don Feltis and Di Langmack, OAM, has spearheaded the Panthers on the Prowl Foundation, a community development foundation helping at-risk kids by diverting them into education. It promotes learning, self-esteem, social skills, resilience, healthy lifestyles and functional literacy. Phil, with the generous support of James Packer, has also been successful in ensuring the building of a $10 million hospitality college along with the development of a campus for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Penrith providing much-needed training and employment for Western Sydney.

Mr Don Feltis, OAM, as chair of Penrith Panthers is indeed its heart and soul. Don played Rugby League for Picton, Penrith Waratahs, New South Wales Police, Wellington, New South Wales Country, Bourke, St Mary's and Richmond between 1947 and 1970, and coached the club's Presidents Cup Team from 1971 to 1973, acting as selector of representative teams from 1974 to 1979. Don has been the driving force behind the Penrith Junior Rugby League since 1985 in a variety of positions, such as chief executive officer, president, vice-president, secretary administrator, and the inaugural district coaching and development manager in 1989. He has been the chair of Penrith Panthers since 2009, having served on the board since 2002. Don served as chairman of the Foundation for Disabled Sportsmen and Women since 2009.

In honour of his outstanding service to rugby league, Don has had bestowed upon him life memberships of the New South Wales Junior Rugby League, New South Wales Rugby League and Penrith District Junior Rugby League, and of course life membership of Penrith Panthers. He has also been awarded the Australian Sports Medal and the James Anderson Memorial Award for service to sport in Penrith, and was placed on the Penrith City Council's Community Wall of Achievement. Don has also served on an array of New South Wales Rugby League and other community committees, dedicating his life to furthering the game of rugby league in New South Wales and his beloved Penrith region. I congratulate these outstanding Australian men.