Recognition for Francis on a job well done
Biloela coach gives back to community
FRANCIS Moretti has been giving back to the Biloela community and surrounding districts, including Baralaba and Thangool, for 40 years.
Last year he was humble in his acceptance of the 2017 Lions Club Melvin Jones Fellow Award, recognising his outstanding contribution in the local community.
“It was only the second one handed out from the Lions Club,” Francis said.
Francis grew up on a dairy farm 70km from Monto in the area of Harrami.
“The majority of the block was scrub back then and we brought in dozers to clear it,” Francis recalled.
“The farms were fairly isolated.
“I rode a horse to school which was three miles away and the roads were all dirt which meant many a blown tyre and you got blogged when it rained.”
In Year 6, Francis’s family moved to Monto, where he completed his primary school education.
Always the avid sportsman it was here he received his first athletic awards at the Monto District Combined Schools Athletics Carnival.
Among his sporting achievements were first place results in the boys’ 75-yard dash and broad jump and second place in high jump.
His sporting interests continued when he went on to complete his secondary education at Nudgee College in Brisbane.
“I represented Nudgee in high jump, shot put and long jump and also played in the under-15 football team,” Francis said.
Strong friendships were formed in those years at boarding school with Francis developing lifelong friends.
“I boarded with Suzie O’Neil’s dad, John O’Neil, he became my ophthalmologist,” he said.
At Year 10, Francis finished school, coming home to help his parents on the dairy farm.
“I use to get paid 5 pounds a week ($10).
“My eldest brother always joked I got paid too much,” Francis laughed.
“I didn’t really like the dairying, you’d get home from the dances at 2am and then have to get up at 4.30am.”
Gradually Francis’s parents moved their main source of farm income from dairy cows into the beef cattle industry.
Throughout this time, Francis was still involved in sport from tennis to playing football with the Thangool Possums.
“Mel Meninga’s dad was captain and coach,” Francis said.
“A lot of good times were had in those days.”
Francis grew a love for the land and being outside and at 21, with some help from his parents, he bought 600 acres at Wowan.
Always wanting something bigger, he eventually settled at a 2500-acre property at Baralaba, which he worked for almost 20 years.
He still played football and trained in Thangool but as the years went on Francis moved into the coaching and training side of athletics and football.
“Half the Baralaba team I coached were kids at Woorabinda,” Francis said.
“I liked to see the kids achieve and become proficient at sport.
“We won three grand finals including under-12, 14 and 16.”
He also volunteered teaching high jump to Baralaba High School students.
❝see I liked to the kids achieve and become proficient at sport. We won three grand finals. — Francis Moretti
As a coach one of his fondest memories was seeing young sportsman Aaron Saltner achieve the high jump result of 202cm.
“That record still stands,” Francis said proudly.
For the past 10 years, Francis has not only been contributing his time to the Biloela Lions Club with the glass and aluminium bin collection but volunteering as a coach and mentor to the young sportspeople in the Biloela community.
His willingness to give his time has seen him form great relationships with the children he coaches.
“I am happy to give the time and it’s great to see the kids develop a connection through a common interest and a concern and appreciation for one another,” Francis said.
AWARD: Francis Moretti with his 2017 Lions Club Melvin Jones Fellow Award.