Nelson Bay's Jamie O'Connor is newly appointed CEO at Touch Football Australia

TOP JOB: Nelson Bay's Jamie O'Connor has climbed to the top of the tree in sports administration, being appointed CEO of Touch Football Australia.

TOP JOB: Nelson Bay's Jamie O'Connor has climbed to the top of the tree in sports administration, being appointed CEO of Touch Football Australia.

"Touch football is almost everyone's second sport, our aim is to make it everyone's first sport."

This is just one of a myriad of long-term objectives for Port Stephens product Jamie O'Connor since his appointment early this year as CEO of Touch Football Australia (TFA).

Other future goals in the sights of the 43-year-old Nelson Bay sporting administrator include further expansion in a sport that is growing in participation rates at around 5 per cent a year.

"Expanding our [NRL Touch] Premiership is an immediate goal but potentially down the track we would be looking at broadcasting the game and Olympic inclusion," O'Connor said.

"Touch continues to grow at all levels and for the first time we are seeing a bigger focus on the juniors than the seniors.

"There are now almost as many females as there are males registered, with a recent survey showing that our strongest participation numbers is in the girls 13 years age group.

"And while touch is already one of the most inclusive sports around, we intend to continue to proivide a safe place for people of all levels and abilities to enjoy their sport."

A Raymond Terrace rugby league junior who later played for Nelson Bay, Jamie O'Connor achieved much as a player, including representing Newcastle, and coach before tackling the role of sports administration.

"I credit my parents, John and Robyn, and the hours of work they put in as volunteers with my interest in sports administration. I have no doubt this work ethic has been passed on and I am grateful for their input and guidance."

He scored his first admin gig as Newcastle Rugby League general manager at the age of 30, taking the reins from Frank Barrett, who Jamie described as a "trailblazer" in the way rugby league was administered.

From there O'Connor took on the role of regional manager Country Rugby League.

After three years O'Connor moved north of the border as QRL general manager, providing a more challenging role in transferring from an operational focus to one of governance.

O'Connor thrived, being responsible for two of the most significant developments in the Queensland Cup: the first was to expand the competition to include PNG, and the second was to negotiate a broadcast deal with a commercial operator.

According to the QRL: "Jamie was central to the development of collaborative agreements with the three Queensland NRL clubs to provide genuine community engagement, elite pathway alignment, increase profile for athletes and junior participation outcomes."

After four years O'Connor wrote a blueprint for the QRL "detailing what I envisaged the game should look like in 2020", before a chance meeting provided him the opportunity to shift across to Queensland Touch.

After another three years O'Connor moved his young family back to Sydney to take on the role of chief operating officer at TFA before the sudden resignation of the then CEO [Steve Mitchell] in February this year.

O'Connor believes he is well positioned to foster and grow TFA 's strategic alliance in areas of participation, expansion and professionalism.

"The growth of the premiership is vitally important to us and shifting from the focus of touch footy [from merely a participation sport] to a spectator sport with live broadcasting," he added.

"Touch has many advantages and for many the best thing about the game remains the social aspect and the fact that anyone of any age can get out of the lounge room for a few hours every week to enjoy a run and a few refreshments afterwards."

O'Connor, now back living in the Bay, said it was also a sense of pride to him to see the mounting number of home town players reach representative level.

"It's a credit to the touch administration in Port Stephens to produce players of the calibre of the Law sisters [Bobbi and Andi], Amy Dufour and Mitch Wilton, among others, and some of the highest level referees at state and national level."

He also heaped praise on the likes of NRL stars Kalyn Ponga, Benji Marshall and Shaun Johnston - all former superstars of the game of touch who constantly attribute their speed and skill to their junior days.

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