2 Sept 2022
The efforts of midfielder Charlie Lazzaro have been recognised with the Peter Scanlon Community Award for 2022
Charlie Lazzaro experienced first-hand the impact that AFL players have on fostering a love of the sport in-person throughout his childhood in Geelong.
He knew that if his dreams of playing professional football came to be, and if the opportunity ever presented itself, that he had a strong desire to return the favour to his new community in North Melbourne.
Charlie was presented his jumper for Round 1 of 2021, and since then, has played 24 games for North Melbourne at a senior level.
The now 20-year-old has been commended for his professionalism, resilience and maturity, the likes of which resemble someone who has been playing at a professional level for far longer than himself. He gives some of this credit to his senior teammates, who along with the younger cohort, have “…looked after us and really helped us transition into the AFL environment and really encouraged us not to go into our shells.”
Charlie puts a lot of emphasis on team spirit at North Melbourne, and how the jump from playing Under 18s to AFL is underpinned by looking after your teammates, rather than individual performance.
Since the middle of 2022, Charlie has been involved on a weekly basis with a program run by The Huddle that is very close to his heart. Huddle Up! Is a multisport program that provides young people with the opportunity to get involved and get active through social games of a variety of sports, as well as health and fitness classes delivered in a safe and inclusive environment.
Growing up in Geelong, Charlie looks back fondly on the experience of AFL players coming to visit his school or trainings to share advice and get fellow aspiring players excited about what a future in footy might look like. These experiences helped shape as a player, and he is proud to be able to provide this experience to his new community at North Melbourne.
Later into Charlie’s school years, he took part in the Duke of Edinburgh - an international youth development program that allows young people explore their full potential and find their purpose, passion, and place in the world. One focus of the Award is Voluntary Service, and Charlie spent his volunteer time throughout the program finding his passion for helping others and learning about the profound effect that volunteering his time can have on the wider community.
[The Duke of Ed] was a pathway, and once I was lucky enough to get drafted to North, I was able to start working with The Huddle Program, and I’ve really enjoyed helping out since I started.- Charlie Lazzaro
It is clear to Huddle Up! attendees and volunteers that Charlie has a special eye for inclusion. He can be seen always going out of his way to make sure every young person is getting the most out of the experience. If he spots someone falling a bit behind or catches them in their shell, he will always go out of his way to get them involved and getting the most out of the experience. He also makes the effort to hang around and shoot hoops or chat with the participants after the session is complete and shows a real joy for fostering these important relationships.
On Thursday night, Charlie was named the winner of The Peter Scanlon Community Award, which exemplifies the spirit of giving, going the ‘extra mile’ on numerous occasions, often without recognition, and never expecting fanfare. During his acceptance speech, he talked about what an honour receiving the award was and how much it means to him. He has come full circle in giving back to his community what was so important to him in his youth, and has made a lasting impression on so many of young people at The Huddle in the process.