Dean Wright

Wright’s Leading from the Front

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

By Jordan Laing

Five years ago when Dean Wright first joined the Western Sydney AFL Indigenous Academy he had no idea it would lead him to become school captain and on a plane to Gallipoli.

But that’s exactly the path the charismatic 17-year-old has taken ever since joining the inaugural Academy in 2007 as a young Indigenous boy growing up in Hassall Grove.

Through his interaction with the community-based program and learning about his Aboriginal heritage, Wright has grown and developed into a leader.

It is this characteristic Plumpton High School recognised when they appointed him school captain for 2012 – becoming just the second Indigenous captain in the school’s history.

“I used to struggle to be a leader,” Wright said. “I always wanted to be school captain but I never found that key to become a leader.

“Through the Academy they taught me great goal setting skills, how to be a good leader and it’s just changed my whole perception on what it means to be a leader and it has helped me to become school captain.”

Wright’s leadership skills were put to the ultimate test recently when he travelled to Gallipoli and Crete on a leadership and development program. He was offered the once in a lifetime trip after being awarded the Premier’s ANZAC Scholarship last year.

It was a trip shared with 11 other like-minded students who have a passion for history, the ANZAC story and a common bond for teamwork.

“We got to experience all of the battlefields our ANZAC’s fought on, not only at Gallipoli but also at Crete as well,” Wright said.

“We had to study a few soldiers and we each visited a gravesite, so we got to learn their story as well as experience what they got to experience walking on the battlefield and seeing the trenches.”

Through the Academy Wright has also developed ties to his roots. Coming from the Yuin tribe in Nowra, Wright has found out more about his past and it’s helped him to become a better person.
 
“The Academy’s been very important,” he said. “They’ve helped me respect where I’ve come from, they’ve helped me get in touch with where I’ve come from and overall acknowledging the fact I’m Aboriginal and I’m proud to be it.

“The Academy is a good way to understand where you’re from, ask questions and get life and cultural skills.”

Out of the Academy, Wright is also a keen footballer and was part of East Coast Eagles under-18 grand final team.

He has dreams of one day playing AFL professionally but if that doesn’t work out he’s keen to become an architect.

It will be a big 12 months coming up for Wright as he leads his school forward and completes his Higher School Certificate.

He will also continue to take part in the AFL Academy as well as the recently launched AFL-run PaCE program which is aimed to engage Indigenous parents, students and communities.

“It’s good [the AFL] is trying to get in touch with the community [through the PaCE program] and not just the kids. The community has responded really well.”

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