AFLNT History

To celebrate the centenary of Territory Football in 2016, Dr. Matthew Stephen produced an essay detailing the sport's achievements and rich history in the NT. 

The following is an excerpt from the essay:

Since football was first played in the Northern Territory in 1916 it has captured the public imagination like no other sport. Names like David Kantilla, Bill Dempsey, Maurice Rioli, Nathan Buckley, Michael Long, Andrew McLeod and Cyril Rioli are synonymous with exhilarating football and the Northern Territory itself.  They are not just football stars but representatives of their family past and present, their football club, and their community.  

Football is woven into to the fabric of Northern Territory life. For some it is the centre of their lives. ‘For the Tiwi people football means hope, it means pride and most of all it means life.’[1] The values invested in football, why it is played, who plays it and who controls it, reveals a great deal about society itself.[2] While today football celebrates and reflects the diversity and achievements the Territory’s communities it has not always been so. As society has changed so has football.


[1] David Moodie, ed. Tiwi Footy Yiloga (Singapore: F11 Productions, 2008), 105.

[2] Vasili, The First Black Footballer, Arthur Wharton 1865–1930: An Absence of Memory. (London: Frank Cass, 1998), p.96