The most prestigious honour bestowed at the Victorian Sport Awards, the Outstanding Contribution to Victorian Sport Award is presented to an individual or organisation in recognition of outstanding achievement in, or contribution to, sport in Victoria.
Since diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2013 and going public the following year, Neale has dedicated his life to educating Australians about the disease and raising money for research to treat and ultimately cure MND.
Neale has inspired the entire country through his determination to live life to the fullest and face the challenges that MND brings with courage and humour. He is also devoted to helping others who are suffering from the disease and those who may be diagnosed in the future.
Part of a famous footballing family, Neale and his three brothers, Terry, Anthony and Chris combined to play 752 games during their careers, the second most by a set of siblings. The foursome also made history in 1990 when they became the first quartet of brothers to play for the same team in a single VFL/AFL game.
Neale then took the head coaching reins at Melbourne in 1998, holding the position for ten years which included a run to the Grand Final in 2000.
After 223 games, his time at the Demons came to an end in 2007. Neale wrapped his coaching career with a five-year stint as General Manager of Football Operations at the West Coast Eagles but was forced to stand down due to health reasons.
Co-founding FightMND in 2014, Neale and the organisation have raised over $50 million through donations, merchandise sales and a number of national events.
These include the FightMND 27 Challenge which encourages Australians to set physical goals involving the number 27 (recognising the average life expectancy in months for a person diagnosed with MND) and Daniher’s Drive which is a four-day road trip around regional Victoria.
Neale Daniher AO said it’s a wonderful honour to be named amongst some of this state’s great sports men and women, including my old mate Sheeds and Dees greats Jim Stynes and Ron Barassi.
'I think I owe sport more than it owes me, as it has been a huge part of my life since I was a teenager and given me such terrific life experiences.'
'In many ways, my family and I feel we have received so much from sport, even more than we have contributed, but I do appreciate this award and thank the State Government of Victoria and Vicsport for the honour,' he said.
Presented by the Victorian Government and Vicsport, the Victorian Sport Awards is the night of nights for the Victorian sporting community and will be held this year on Wednesday 7 June 2023 at the Victory Room, Marvel Stadium.
The awards celebrate the athletes, coaches, administrators and volunteers who have made an exceptional contribution to sport in Victoria as well as the initiatives that promote sport and active recreation participation.
For more information about the 2022 Victorian Sport Awards visit the Vicsport website