While on one level, Anthony ‘Walla’ McDonald-Tipungwuti’s story is one of prodigious natural talent and a seized opportunity, there is so much more to know and admire about Anthony’s journey from the Tiwi Bombers to the Essendon Bombers.
When Anthony arrived at Chairo from the Tiwi Islands in 2010 as a shy boy with learning difficulties, he spoke little English and could barely read or write. However, he was determined to obtain an education and pursue his dream of playing AFL football.
With much hard work, support and determination, Anthony completed Year 11 and then obtained a Cert 3 in Sport and Recreation as an apprenticeship, working at the school as an assistant sports coach. Head of Learning Support, Lorraine Lodge, recalls that as a sports coach, ‘Anthony always focussed on building relationships with students, believing in role modelling good behaviour and sportsmanship’.
Speaking at a special assembly at the Drouin Campus, where he presented a signed jumper to the school, Anthony explained: ‘Chairo is one of the reasons I am able to play for Essendon. Anyone can achieve in life; you just have to work hard and take advice from those who love you. I am playing AFL football now but that wouldn’t have happened without my education and God.’
As he shared his story at the assembly, Anthony encouraged students to appreciate the great privilege that it is to receive a good education. ‘One day when I was fifteen, I was sitting in class on Bathurst Island and I realised that even though I was good at footy, I wanted to learn.’
Anthony has certainly captured the attention and admiration of football supporters around the country with his incredible speed, fierce tackling and precision kicking. Becoming an elite sportsman has involved dedication, commitment and perseverance, and Walla is to be congratulated on making the most of the opportunity presented to him when Essendon elevated him from their rookie list at the start of the 2016 season.
Chairo is committed to helping prepare students to make a positive difference in the world. Read about just a few of the many young men and women who have attended Chairo over the years.
Kirsten Bryant: Kirsten is teaching in a multi-cultural primary school.
Travis Waterhouse: Travis is flying for a charter company in Alice Springs.
Hannah Cleal: Hannah is studying to be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti: Anthony is playing AFL football for Essendon.