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Peter Cullen talks about the Power of Footy and How it Saves Lives.

Updated: Mar 23, 2023


Peter Cullen AM is the Founder of Reclink Australia and has served as a Director since 1990. Having initially trained for Catholic Priesthood and working for the Sacred Heart Mission for over 15 years, Peter has always been passionate about improving the lives of people experiencing disadvantage through sport and arts. Peter is my special guest this morning around 8.30am.

Reclink began, with the kick of a football, on the streets of St Kilda 30 years ago – “30 years ago, I began to think about social welfare. Welfare often stopped people from “drowning”, but it did not teach them how to swim. At that time, daily in the cities of St Kilda and inner Melbourne, many people were isolated. It occurred to me how much contact there was through “community”.

A defining moment for him, after what had been a difficult day, was when he spoke to a homeless man and said, “it had been one of those days”. His response was “I have had one of those lives. Peter introduced, and provided access to, Aussie rules Kick to Kick, it was small in the beginning but came to be a driving power to motivate people to participate.

A long-term drug addict who came along, said “doing it reminded him of his better life memories”. From Kick to Kick, to social games to a League, the game came to life. He has gone on to meet so many people who had experienced “one of those lives” and introduced them to Reclink Football and other programmes, which have literally “saved their lives”.

The Power of a Football is a riveting collection of over 30 personal stories from all walks of life in the 30 years of Reclink footy.

The big names, the unsung heroes and everyone in between – from the early days of its grassroots in St Kilda, to the football league it is today around the country.

Throughout these stories are the recurrent themes of hope, passion, inspiration, confidence and the transformative nature of connection and purpose which AFL football provides.

From players graciously sharing their deeply personal stories - such as Raeles, the oldest player involved in Reclink, who credits Reclink with changing her life - to the stories of the passionate volunteers such as Laura. Laura was a year 12 student who found herself unexpectedly upgraded from helping to coaching the team, despite being younger than most of her players.

Read musician Tim Rogers story on his lifelong love of footy and how stepping on stage doesn’t compare to the fear before he plays in the Reclink Community Cup, and rediscover respected journalist Martin Flanagan’s Brave Hearts (first published in The Age)– the compelling story of a game he attended 20 years ago, one which he still considers one of the most memorable AFL games he’s ever seen.

Testimonials inside from Rev Tim Costello AO, Andrew Gaze, Doug Hawkins, Andy Maher, Tim Watson, Sam Kekovitch and more (

The Power of a Football is an uplifting and important book which reminds us of all that something as simple as a football holds the power to change lives.

Reclink thanks its Book Partners for making publication of these stories possible - The Phillips Foundation, The Andrews Family Charitable Fund, Ann Whitelock, Courtney-O'Connor, Darryl Courtney-O'Connor AM, BlueRock, Legro Lawyers, McCartney Real Estate, Carllision, eview Real Estate – Werribee, Landers & Rogers – as well as many generous donors.

He is an avid Geelong supporter, Peter is married with three children and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including an Order of Australia Medal (2000), Centenary Medal (2003), Sports Chaplaincy Australia Award for Compassion in Sport (2011), Sports Star of the Year (Southern Region Services to Sport (2001) and Tattersall’s Award for Enterprise and Achievement (1997).

“…full of stories of redemption, hope, pushing doors open for people and bringing out the very finest qualities of our communities. Put them together and they are a force for good. I see in them the very best of us. As you read the stories in this book, I’m confident you’ll see the same.” – The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister of Australia.


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