Tiwi Land Council


Football and the Tiwi's

Football and the Tiwis

They are still regarded as some of the best to ever play the game Kantilla, Rioli, Long.

it started almost 70 Years ago when a young Missionary from the Riverina District of NSW, Brother John Pye, was posted to Nguiu on Bathurst Island by the Catholic order of the Sacred Heart

The Tiwis were, natural athletes Brother Pye channelled that remarkable energy and ball sense into the game he played at home, Australian Rules.

Brother Bye recently had two big reasons to celebrate he had his robin birthday, and saw the Island's representative side, the Tiwi Bombers, accepted into the NT Football league.

Another historic figure, former folksinger and now Administrator of the NT, His Excellency Ted Egan AO, furthered the football education of Tiwi players through the St. Marys team in Darwin in the early 1950's.

But it was the tall locoman front Bathurst Island, Dravid Kantilla, who started the Tiwi legend with football fans In southern Australia.

In 1961 he joined South Adelaide at a time when the team was at the bottom of the SA league.

David Kantilla kicked six goals in his first match and played 113 games in his SANFL career, before returning to Darwin in 1966 to nurture Other Tiwi talent as coach of St Marys.

Other Tiwi players followed in David Kanlilia's footsteps. The teenaged Maurice Rioli went to Perth in the wake of Cyclone Tracy In 1974, to become one of the greats of the game in the 1970s and 80s,

As a star of the Richmond line up, he won the Norm Smith medal in 1982, and captained South Fremantle, before renting from football and becoming a Member of Parliament.

Michael Long won the Best and Fairest award for west Torrens in 1988. He went on to duplicate Rioli's feat in winning the Norm Smith medal in 1993. The same year he played in Essendon's premiership team under coaching legend Kevin Sheedy. The Tiwi Bombers continue the tradition.