Trending topics

Select your station

We'll remember your choice for next time

Essendon hopes key appointment will transform Bombers into “destination” club for Indigenous players


Essendon believes the appointment of Dean Rioli to the club’s board will see the Bombers become a destination club for Indigenous talent.

Rioli is Essendon’s first Indigenous board member and comes after a key recommendation from the club’s external review. He played 100 games for Essendon between 1999 and 2006.

Announcing the news on Friday morning, Essendon detailed that Rioli will also chair Essendon’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council with a plan to improve connection with Indigenous Australians across the country.

Essendon president Dave Barham then hopes it’ll lead to more young Indigenous players choosing to play at the Bombers.

“Dean Rioli brings great football and professional experience to the Essendon Board, and we’re delighted to have him as the first-ever Indigenous Board member,” Barham said in a club statement.

“One of the key recommendations of the external review, was the appointment of an Indigenous director. We have acted immediately on that, and we are absolutely delighted to have someone of Dean’s calibre join our board.

“Dean will help us reset our club so that we again become a destination for all young Indigenous talent around the county. We want more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and players to be connected to the Essendon Football Club and the role of the Advisory Council will be to drive this across Australia.

“He is a great role model, as well as being one of our past great players. This is a great step forward for our club.”

Despite the difficult time for Essendon – particularly the board – Rioli says he sees unity in the club hierarchy.

He also spoke about the role he hopes to play at Essendon.

“The Essendon Football Club has been huge for Aboriginal people and players who have played here. I remember when Michael Long first joined Essendon and that was the reason I supported Essendon,” he said.

“Having quality Indigenous footballers at the footy club is great but we need to get out to the community and show there is a real pathway to football. It is important for Aboriginal communities to touch the footy club and feel a deep connection to its history and its future.”

“The focus of the Advisory Committee is about getting people from different parts of Australia to provide insights on how the footy club can make an impact in their local communities. Essendon is a national club, and we need to make sure we’re engaging all Australians.”

Rioli fills the board position left by former president Paul Brasher, who departed when losing the presidency to Brasher.


More in AFL