When the Australian women’s national soccer team, the Matildas, runs onto the oval at the Brisbane Stadium on Thursday night to challenge Nigeria, no fan will cheer louder than forester, friend and football fanatic Bob Gordon.
Bob, who last week called time on his many years of service to the Institute of Foresters of Australia (now Forestry Australia), has just been elected chairman of the four-states Football Federation of Australia.
The confessed “soccer tragic” has consistently followed the progress of the Matildas and was on the sidelines this season for games in Sydney and Melbourne and the Matildas’ children’s competition in Brisbane recently.
But more about that later.
The president of Forestry Australia, Dr Michelle Freeman, paid tribute to the former president, who resigned as a director last week.
“Bob oversaw significant change including modernising the constitution, relocation of the national office to Melbourne and the engagement of current CEO Jacquie Martin,” Dr Freeman said.
“Not only did we see the introduction of the successful webinar program, the appointment of a science policy position, and a sustained period of growth that saw Forestry Australia reach 1200 members at the end of June, but also the development of the Future Foresters Initiative.”
Further, over the past 16 years, Bob has also assisted Indigenous landowners in establishing forest management, sawmilling and furniture processing in their communities.
From March 2015 to August 2017, Bob, who has a B.Sc in forest economics from ANU, also served as interim CEO of the Institute of Foresters Australia and worked with the board on a strategic review, identifying revenue opportunities and IFA priorities.
“It’s been a privilege serving with Bob, who has been generous with his time and knowledge,” Dr Freeman said.
“He has provided outstanding leadership, and his resignation has taken place as part of the strategic generational change and long-planned board transition and renewal.”
The board, staff and members of the Australian Forest Products Association also acknowledged Bob’s significant contribution to the industry.
“He will leave a lasting legacy,” CEO Joel Fitzgibbon said, noting his many years of service.
“As interim CEO of the Institute of Foresters Australia and then board member and president of the institute and later Forestry Australia, Bob’s leadership and commitment to forestry in Australia has been unwavering.”
Bob Gordon said Forestry Australia had undergone significant changes since he was first appointed to the board.
“I am sure the current leadership team will keep the organisation in good stead, and they will have my full support,” he said.
Bob, 67, will continue to be involved with Forestry Australia but not at the board level.
“I will be a ‘moving target,’ he joked with Wood Central.
“I know the industry is going through some tough times, but there’s a lot of passion and faith across the sector.”
“The industry, and professional foresters, in particular, have always been resilient. There are some really good people out there.”
When Wood Central talked to Bob on Sunday, he was on his car phone travelling from Port Arthur back to Bruny Island off the southeast coast of Tasmania.
The place he calls home is a 56-ha farm, most of it growing radiata and blue gum plantations … “with a herd of Black Angus grazing the rest.”
Bob Gordon will be far from idle as he continues his work as deputy chair of bank MyState Ltd, chair, Supported Affordable Accommodation Trust and Honorary Consul of Finland for Tasmania.
The SAA trust came about in 2015 when Bob Gordon raised the suitable housing shortage issue at a ‘family forum’ staged by Mosaic Support Services in southern Tasmania.
The question posed by Bob was: “How can we bring people together to build group homes and meet an urgent community need?”
Mosaic CEO Ralph Doedens and Bob Gordon formed a collaboration and engaged in an extensive consultation process with clients, families, and employees.
A suitable quality design was developed to provide privacy and support with three two-bedroom modules constructed on a standard block of land.
An alternative design has 4×1 bedroom bedsits and 1×2 bedroom unit in one residence.
“The modules, including shared area and staff rooms, are high quality, wheelchair friendly, and easily modified to include tracking and other hoisting equipment,” Bob said.
“Costs of construction will be lower by designing a simple template that can be reproduced in large numbers,” Bob said.
“Units will be energy efficient and easy to clean to reduce maintenance costs.”
“An office area and overnight accommodation for support workers is included with internal access to all units and rooms for safely storing medications.”
Bob said he had always been interested in modular homes – buildings put together in a factory and then delivered on-site.
“The first 12 seven-bedroom houses have been built, and we intend to spread the concept to other states,” he said.
Returning to football, Bob and Wood Central turned to the merits and popularity of rugby union and soccer.
Jim Bowden is from Wales, the home of rugby union, but played soccer as a teenager at Berrymead Primary School in London.
“Well, said Bob, 100 million people around the world play rugby union while four billion play soccer. Go figure.”
“Maybe”, I responded.
“But I have a program signed by famous English outside right player Sir Stanley Matthews after we met him at a friendly demonstration game at the Brisbane Showgrounds in the late 1950s.
“I’ll bring it along to the Matildas game in Brisbane.”
“Wow. I think you’ve trumped by ace,” Bob said.
We’ll both be keeping an eye on Sydney-born Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter on Sunday.
What a great and appropriate name for a player.