Please note: This story contains reference to someone who has died.

In a huge announcement from NTFL club the Tiwi Bombers, former Essendon player Dean Rioli has been elected Club President and former St Kilda player Greg McAdam has been announced as senior coach.

The first Aboriginal community team to play in a major competition during the 2006/07 NTFL season, the club won their first and only premiership in 2011/12.

The Bombers had a very disappointing 2020/21 season and finished bottom of the ladder for the first time in the club’s 14-year history. Rioli hopes the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the premiership win will inspire the Tiwi club to bounce back up the ladder. 

After 15 years of coaching Rioli said he decided it was time to join the Board of his beloved Tiwi Bombers, where he played in the inaugural seven-game trial before the team entered the competition in 2006/07. 

“My grandfather was a part of the planning and discussion to set the Bombers up 15-20 years ago. He passed on a few years back and now I am excited to add my flavour to it because of what him and the other Elders set up,” Rioli told NIT. 

“There’s more than footy, there are many social issues on the Tiwi Islands and the Bombers are a vehicle for change.”

Rioli currently lives in Melbourne and will move back to the NT when his current coaching commitments end with the Moonee Valley women’s team in the Essendon District Football League. He says he will be back and forth to Melbourne where he will continue his work with the Aboriginal community. 

“Melbourne has been home for 20 years, I’ve been working in Aboriginal employment for 14 years and helping the Aboriginal community find employment and get training. Now I will be putting what I learned into my mob up there.” 

Rioli says he is excited to join the Board because he will play a different role and will be able to help set up the club off field and sustain it into the future. 

“The new Board has great chemistry and are already showing that we are committed to creating change so the Tiwi community can be proud and our youth aspire to become future Bombers,” he said.

“Playing the admin role now after coaching for 15 years, I get to make sure I can help make decisions to support the growth of football.

“We are looking for members from all over Australia to join the Tiwi Bombers and come on the journey with us for 2021/22.”

Rioli says the Board has been working tirelessly behind the scenes, with their latest challenge being to find a new senior coach who can rebuild and inspire the players to re-commit and get to a level where the club can get back on the winners list. 

The club has since announced former St Kilda, North Adelaide and Central Districts player Greg McAdam as their new coach.

McAdam is the older brother of AFL legends Gilbert and Adrian McAdam, who grew up and currently live in Alice Springs. 

“The move to the Tiwi Islands to coach the Bombers will be a huge bonus for the club. Not only is Greg a passionate and motivating person as a coach but he is very passionate about helping improve opportunities for Aboriginal people,” Rioli said. 

“The Tiwi community will be a great fit for the Central Australian and the Central Australian will be a great fit for the Tiwi community.”

The NTFL 2021/22 season begins in October.

By Teisha Cloos