It was at a meeting at the Albert Park offices of Henderson six weeks ago where the Riewoldt appointment had its beginnings. He was one of a number of famous Tasmanian AFL identities at the meeting, including Peter Hudson, Rodney Eade and Scott Clayton, and was asked to put forward his thoughts on what made a great club.
From that meeting the concept of creating the club’s DNA through a body of work entitled “The Fabric”, with Riewoldt as something of a spokesman cum cultural attache, was born. Still Melbourne-based Riewoldt plans to relocate his young family to his Orford beach house for three months from December to kick off his new job.
“I’ve lived one culture at Richmond for 17 years,” said Riewoldt, “and for the last two-and-a-half years I’ve worked with leadership and culture through the company I run with my wife and two others Authentic Leaders.
“And through Damien (Hardwick) I’ve learned about the importance of storytelling to create a great organisation. So excited about what this football club can be, and it’s not going to be my ideas that create this – it’s going to be the collective ideas of the Tasmanian people.
“I want to talk to the Premier. I want to talk to David Walsh and find out what lay behind the creation of MONA. I want to sit down with (state opposition leader) Rebecca White.
“We should scour the state to find out what makes us. Our football DNA lies in names like Darrel Baldock and Peter Hudson and Royce Hart and Matthew Richardson, but it also lies in the stories hidden in the far corners of our state.”
When asked if he felt daunted by the task ahead, Riewoldt said: “To be honest, I feel very privileged, but I don’t feel daunted. To work to try to parlay the fabric of this state into a football team and club put together by people and colours and history feels pretty unique.
“There’s no cloth like the one that exists in this state and I have big dreams that we can create something truly special here.”
The new board will also establish a Women’s Football Advisory Panel, led by experienced sports administrator Julie Kay. Riewoldt said that while the AFL men’s team would not start before 2028 he remained hopeful the AFLW side could make its debut earlier.
And he remained unperturbed by the long timeline. “It gives us more time to do this properly and do it the Tasmanian way,” he said. “This is a big dream and there’s real strength in going slow.
“If I was to look forward five years and then look back I’d like to think we created an unbreakable link between the Tasmanians who live here and the Tasmanians who left to live in other states or other parts of the world, and the footballers who came here to play for the Tasmanian Football Club.
“We want to provide something we, and they, are really proud of and a sense of togetherness. When people walk through the doors for the first time they’ll know this is a club created by the right people, and they’ll have the opportunity to become the best people and players they can be.”