North Melbourne player Paul Ahern gets amongst The Huddle in Devonport

Published on 09 May 2017

North Melbourne’s Paul Ahern is using his time off-field to support local kids in Tasmania. The talented 20 year old will get amongst the coaching and leadership activities at the final session of The Huddle’s eight-week demonstration project in Devonport today at 1:15pm.

“This is my first year at North and I’ve been really amazed to see all the work The Huddle does in the community,” Ahern said.

“It’s really exciting that The Huddle’s work can reach out to even more people, including in Tasmania.

“As footballers, we’re really lucky to be able to help The Huddle give back to the community, together with Spirit of Tasmania.”

The Huddle is a not-for-profit initiative of the North Melbourne Football club, brought to Tasmania with funding from the Devonport City Council and in partnership with the Spirit of Tasmania.

Spirit of Tasmania is pleased to be partnering with the North Melbourne Football Club to deliver benefits to young Tasmanians and their families through the Huddle. Spirit of Tasmania Chief Executive Officer Bernard Dwyer said “Being able to bring this award-winning, not-for-profit program to Tasmania through our partnership is an additional benefit we were only too happy to support.

“We have a long record of supporting worthwhile initiatives and projects in the communities in which we operate.”

Over the past eight weeks’ participants aged 12 – 25 have taken part in a range of fun initiatives with a focus on sport and recreation, education and careers, digital skills and civic participation. The program was designed to engage, support and empower young people to build upon their strengths and to participate in the community.

There have been two programs as part of the demonstration project:

Active Learning: a school based initiative for students aged 12 – 15 years to increase knowledge about a range of topics inducing health and wellbeing, pathways to employment, leadership, digital skills through participating in fun and accessible physical activity based activities

Active Girls: developed to help decrease barriers to female participation and empower young women in a safe inclusive and welcoming environment. Young women aged 12 – 25 years, and their families have been coming along to The Bluff to take part in sessions where physical activity is used to increase self-confidence, improve social networks, strengthen resilience and belief in themselves.

Today’s final sessions focus on developing leadership and coaching values. The participants will learn about ‘coaching’ skills while getting physically active and will have the opportunity to learn from two representatives from Spirit of Tasmania.

Spirit of Tasmania’s Jessica Wilde said “I’ve been lucky to have great opportunities to develop my leadership skills throughout my career with Sprit of Tasmania. Being part of The Huddle is a direct way to share some of my experience with the young people in my community.”

Spirit of Tasmania has been a strong supporter of The Huddle in Tasmania, helping inspire young people aged between 12 and 25 to join in the demonstration project. With the project happening in Spirit of Tasmania’s southern most home port, Devonport, the partnership has been an enormous success, building further on the work North Melbourne and Spirit of Tasmania are already doing in the community space.

Spirit of Tasmania’s Shaun Newall said “I want to live in a community where our young people are encouraged to be the best they can be and I’m really excited to be part of a program like The Huddle that will have a lasting impact locally”.

Devonport Mayor Steve Martin said “It’s been wonderful to watch how this project has engaged our young people, by getting them active and linking them up with many different groups and organisation in our city.

We are appreciative of the contribution the North Melbourne Football Club have made within our community.”

Managing Director of Healthy Tasmania Lucy Byrne said “It’s been really great seeing these young people learn and grow over the last eight weeks through their participation in Active Learning and Active Girls”.

“Providing some non-traditional ways for young people to get involved in physical activity, to run around, have fun and meet new people, has been a great way to build their sense of belonging in their community.”

WHEN: TODAY, Tuesday 9th May, 1:15pm for interviews, session starts at 1:30

WHERE: Devonport Stadium, 34 Forbes St, Devonport


- NMFC player Paul Ahern
- Program participants
- Bridget Barker, Manager Diversity and Inclusion, North Melbourne Football Club
- Jessica Wilde and Shaun Newall, Spirit of Tasmania
- Steve Martin, Devonport Mayor
- Lucy Byrne, Managing Director of Healthy Tasmania
Contact: Lucy Byrne, 0409 937 421


Healthy Tasmania Pty Ltd on behalf of The Huddle and North Melbourne Football Club
Phone: 0409937421

NOTES: The Huddle is a not-for-profit initiative of the North Melbourne Football Club, The Scanlon Foundation and the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

Healthy Tasmania is a local project management company that works with community partners to build capacity, improve equity and inclusion, and promote pride of place; their motivation is to make communities thrive. The Huddle has engaged Healthy Tasmania Pty Ltd to support the planning and delivery of the 8-week demonstration projects.