JOHN Forbes has been remembered as a great friend to young athletes by Australian netball great Sharelle McMahon.
Ms McMahon remembered meeting Mr Forbes when she first moved to Melbourne to take up a scholarship with the Victorian Institute of Sport, through his role with Puma.
They were great friends from that moment, Ms McMahon said. She said Mr Forbes was the most genuine, generous person she had ever met.
Having someone who genuinely cared about you was amazing, as a young athlete starting out in a challenging world, Ms McMahon said.
"He would just do anything for anyone really, let alone the people who were close to him," Ms McMahon said.
"It makes a huge difference to have someone genuinely believe in your when you're first starting out on your journey, it's huge.
"I know he did that for many athletes from many sporting codes."
A SPORTING "legend" has been farewelled by friends from across the nation, after his death in Mitiamo.
John Forbes OAM was found dead on a property about 9.30am on Sunday.
Friends describe a man who always had time for others and worked endlessly for the good of the community.
Mr Forbes was instrumental in setting up the Blue Ribbon Foundation and fundraising to support public hospitals. He numbered some of Australia's best athletes among his close friends.
His collection of sporting memorabilia - amassed in part while working as a sponsorship manager for Puma for 22 years - forms the basis of the Rochester Sports' Museum's collection.
Mr Forbes still went to training at the Mitiamo Football Netball Club every Thursday, to eat dinner with players, and was at every Saturday game.
Tributes have poured in from across the sporting world, including from Former Victorian wicket-keeper and captain Darren Berry, who tweeted Mr Forbes was "a great friend and life mentor, above all else a truly remarkable man".
This morning the world lost one of the greatest men I’ve met in my lifetime A great friend & life mentor, above all else a truly remarkable humble man. John Forbes you guided so many of us on our sporting journeys I’ll never forget you. Love to Faye & the boys at this sad time.— Darren Berry (@ChuckBerry1969) March 7, 2021
Close friend Alan Kealey said Mr Forbes was a great Australian, a country boy, and a family man. Mr Kealey said Mr Forbes always had others, and the community, at heart in his actions.
He remembers how Mr Forbes would ring him often during his fight with cancer, to say "Hang in there Al, you'll get through it".
It was part of a broader pattern. Mr Kealey said Mr Forbes would go out of his way to help anybody who was ill.
He remembered Mr Forbes' fundraising, which spanned everything from one of the first MRIs in a Victorian hospital, to an annual lunch for the Echuca hospital.
The former manager of the North Melbourne Giants, Mr Kealey recalled how Mr Forbes suggested they hold a fundraising basketball game in the wake of the murders of police officers Steven Tynan and Damian Eyre.
Mr Kealey said it raised $88,000 in just one night, which was later used to set up the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
He remembered Mr Forbes' wife Faye as an unbelievable support during that time.
Mr Kealey said you could fill a book with the people Mr Forbes had helped in his lifetime.
"The number of people who recognise John Forbes for what he'd done. I just know no one else who touched so many people," Mr Kealey said.
"It didn't matter where you went, there'd be stars around the country, whether it be football or cricket, basketball, he would help. It was just outstanding what he used to do."
Bendigo Sports Star Awards chair Michael McKern remembered Mr Forbes as knowledgeable, full of wisdom, and always up for a chat.
He recalled long-lasting applause when Mr Forbes received the Faith Leach Achievement Award, saying it was a fantastic tribute to a fantastic man.
"[John] always had plenty of time for everyone. Time wasn't an issue with John, he was just always supportive, making sure everyone else was looked after," Mr McKern said.
"He was always there, he was always willing to help, always willing to contribute, always willing to give to his community.
"Everyone knows John Forbes, everyone knows what he did. I'm sure that everyone will sadly miss John."
Rochester Sports Museum project committee secretary Bob Knight said the museum's more thousands of pieces would stand as a legacy to Mr Forbes' passion.
Mr Knight said everyone who walked into the museum said, "Wow, we never expected this", in reaction to the personal memorabilia given to Mr Forbes by sports stars, in appreciation of his work.
An old friend of Mr Forbes, Ken Hynes, said he was always very outgoing, fun-loving and casual, with a great sense of humor.
About 10 years younger than Mr Forbes, Mr Hynes said he had known him all his life.
He said the establishment of what is now the Blue Ribbon Foundation would probably be Mr Forbes' greatest legacy.
"John was a very loyal and committed person, he had such love for his family and friends and community," Mr Hynes said.
"He was just a very special Australian and a loyal friend. Forbesy we thank you for just being you."
TRIBUTES have poured in for Australian sporting identity John Forbes OAM, who was found dead on Sunday morning at a Mitiamo property.
Mitiamo Football Netball Club president Rob Clohesy said Mr Forbes was a true gentleman and loyal friend. Mr Clohesy said Mr Forbes would open up his house and family to anyone new arriving.
He remembered Mr Forbes as always the first to put up his hand whenever the club needed help.
"He came to training every Thursday night, and had tea with us, and every Saturday he'd be there," Mr Clohesy said.
"He just knows everybody, he's such a well-known person in the Loddon Valley and the Bendigo community.
"He's just such a big hole in our club we're going to lose, we'll never be able to replace him."
Mr Forbes was a life member of the Mitiamo club, with an oval named after him in honour of his work.
His collection of sporting memorabilia formed the centrepiece of the Rochester Sports Museum, which opened in 2019.
Mr Forbes had spent 22 years as a sponsorship manager at Puma, during which he mixed with some of the world's top athletes.
A MAN who died in Bendigo Creek on Sunday has been named as Australian sporting identity John Forbes, OAM.
Police will prepare a report for the coroner after the man's body was found in the creek at a Mitiamo property about 9.30am on Sunday.
The Mitiamo Football and Netball Club posted a tribute to Mr Forbes on its Facebook page, as a Club Legend and Life Member.
"John was so loyal, supportive and actively involved in our club, always willing to do whatever he could to lend a helping hand. Even though in later years his health wasn't the best it didn't stop him from volunteering in some way," the tribute read.
"He gave so much of his time and energy to the long list of organisations he was involved in including being the founder of The Blue Ribbon Foundation.
"We will miss John's witty humour and story telling. His friendly personality was so engaging you couldn't help but warm to him and enjoy being in his company."
Police say a neighbour found the man's body about 9.30am on Sunday, in the creek at a Mitiamo property.
It appears the man was trying to fill the bucket with water from the creek at the time of the incident.
The death is not being treated as suspicious.
Mr Forbes spent 22 years as a sponsorship manager at Puma, during which he amassed a collection of memorabilia. During this time he mixed with some of the world's greatest athletes.
Much is now on show as the centrepiece of the Rochester Sports Museum, which opened in 2019.
- Additional reporting from Anthony Pinda.
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