AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) congratulates Patron in Chief of the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre (MLLLC) and AFLNT Team of the Century inductee, Michael Long on being named 2019 NT Australian of the Year.
Announced last night at a function in Darwin, Michael was recognised for using his voice and the profile he built as an Australian Rules Football icon to fight against racism and in continuing his tireless work to close the gap between young Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
An advocate for reconciliation, Michael continues his good work through the Michael Long Foundation, and by supporting the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre based in Marrara, as well as The Long Walk.
Before he was an NT representative player, he was a highly skilled and proud member of the St Mary's Football Club, making his senior debut at just 16-years-old, going on to play 52 games and winning two NTFL premierships.
His elite playing history and accolades are well documented; a dual AFL premiership player with Essendon, the 1993 Norm Smith Medallist and the first Indigenous player to captain an AFL side. All this before being named an Essendon Team of the Century recipient, an AFL Indigenous Team of the Century inductee, an AFL and AFLNT Hall of Fame player and an AFLNT Team of the Century inductee.
In March 2015, the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre was opened, based off Michael’s vision and determination to harness the power of Australian Rules Football in the NT to give young Indigenous Territorians the same opportunities as their non-Indigenous peers.
The MLLLC provides a unique sporting and education program for indigenous students from remote areas.
AFLNT CEO Stuart Totham said with thanks to Michael Long the MLLLC Program had impacted the lives of just over 750 students to date.
“A few years ago, when Michael envisaged what he wanted to achieve it took great foresight and courage to see it through.
“We have worked closely with him to expand on his dreams for the MLLLC and are now recruiting for a second teaching resource which will see even more of the NT’s remote Indigenous children given the opportunity to be part of the program.
“Territorians have immense pride in all he achieved on the footy field and that feeling continues to swell the longer he has retired, with all he works for now and how generously he gives of himself and to everyone. The establishment of the Michael Long Foundation will also have far-reaching impact for generations to come.
“He is a role model to us all and continues to inspire greatness in our organisation. We are sure he will give the National Australia Day Council Board something to consider when deciding the 2019 Australian of the Year,” Totham said.