The new General Manager of the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre, Tavis Perry, discusses his time in Territory football and his plans for the future.

It’s hard to wipe the smile off Tavis Perry’s face. Whether he’s kicking a footy with kids in Galiwinku, or commentating NTFL action at TIO stadium, Perry’s enthusiastic attitude towards football in the Top End is always proudly on public display. He loves the sport, and evidently, the sport loves the work he undertakes.

Perry, who recently became a new father, has just commenced work as the General Manager of the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre.
Despite these two significant lifestyle changes, Perry is undaunted by the next phase of his life and see’s his new position as another opportunity to give back to the sport he is so passionate about.

“I’m not nervous, just excited. I can be confident knowing that I have good people around me and a product that is going to work.” Perry said.
His appointment was made after extensive interviews were conducted with a diverse range of candidates.
But the General Manager’s position and the white collar that comes with it is a far cry from Perry’s more humble beginnings in football almost 6 years ago when he started work at AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) as a Development Manager in Galiwinku.
“The people were so welcoming and so warm. Yeah they’ve got their challenges and their issues, but overall, it was a really positive experience,” said Perry about his time in Galiwinku.

After spending two years there, Perry and his partner Natalie moved to Darwin to commence a role as AFLNT’s Remote Projects Manager.

The position had been newly created and at the time, AFLNT had just three remote projects in operation. Perry was instrumental in the exponential expansion of the department and the new role allowed him to travel to remote communities across the Territory.

“It’s been surreal. The football that I’ve witnessed and been involved in has been absolutely amazing.

“The programs are now firmly embedded and all the staff are well respected. The projects have had and continue to have a big social impact in their respective communities.”

When questioned further about the social impact that football has in remote regions, Perry’s smile widened.

“Last year there were 11,000 people involved in our remote footy programs with only 10 staff servicing these regions. That says a lot.”

And Perry believes that for many of the young indigenous people involved in those programs, the opening of the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre is the missing piece of the puzzle.

“There are kids that do go to school and always do the right thing, but what’s the reward for doing so? This is it. This is their opportunity to do further learning, get involved in the leadership elements and most importantly, do something that they love doing.”

Now in his second week in the new role, Perry believes that his vast experience working in remote communities has made for a comfortable switch.

“I’ve only been doing this role for a week or so, but I feel like I’ve been doing it for six months. I had a really good transition out of my old role into the new position.”

The Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre will officially be opened on March 13th, 2015.