Each month we speak to Olympian, gold medallist, and former Senator Nova Peris about topics important to her and important to mob.

Nova Peris sat down with NIT to talk about the AFL as her son – Jack Peris, was drafted to the league. 

Your son Jack has been drafted to St Kilda, what are the emotions around this for him, yourself and the family?

I think for Jack initially it was relief that all the hard work he put in with his training paid off by getting the honour of a spot on St Kilda’s list. Some 860 kids put their name up to be drafted and only 70-80 got picked up. With Covid interruptions, he was disappointed like many other kids and families with it wreaking havoc on the world and many things being cancelled. Covid more or less killed off his athletics Olympic dream for now but allowed Jack to focus solely on his football. He also combined that with getting a fantastic Year 12 ATAR result enabling him to go to university where he will study a commerce degree. Melbourne Grammar School has had an incredible impact on my son’s life and I can’t thank them enough as well as Andrew Penfold’s Australian Indigenous Education Foundation scholarship program.

Jack Peris, Photo Supplied.

Jack has joined a team that has a history of deadly Indigenous players like Nicky Winmar, was St Kilda a club he always wanted to join? 

Absolutely. St Kilda have looked after Jack with their next generation program he’s been a part of for the past three years now. They have been really professional in their development of him and got him really working on his strengths but also identifying and working hard on his weaknesses too. St Kilda now have eight Aboriginal players on their list going into season 2022. It is a culturally safe space and very exciting for Jack. Being part of the NAB League with Sandringham Dragons had a huge impact on his development too. Environment has a huge bearing on one’s success and the environment I put Jack in was conducive to high achieving.

Jack is one example of following in the footsteps of their athlete parent/s, can you talk about the ‘cycle’ of children of athletes working hard to get into their own sports paths. 

Yeah I guess you are a product of the environment you are in. I also feel that the belief is strong in kids with athlete parents and that can aid the success and they can often handle the added pressure. You couple that with kids understanding the hard work and sacrifices that we made in our day as most of these kids have good access to technology now and can look up what they need to and see it. That family pride and history I think really drives the younger generations to try to succeed. I feel my life and journey has made it easier for my kids in regards to the doors it has opened for them. It’s up to them then to put in the hard yards and listen to the people that have been there and done it in order for them to succeed. Jack has been an absolute pleasure for me to train as his coach for athletics. He listened and followed everything I told him and I know he will be a champion in his own right because he has incredible discipline.

What are some things you’re looking forward to in the 2022 season? Are you a St Kilda fan now?

Yes, definitely a Saints fan now! I guess I just can’t wait until that moment arrives when Jack earns a debut AFL game. It will be an emotional time but a very happy time too for the whole family and for Jack, realising his dream. With the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane, you never know what can happen and he may want to have a crack at being an Olympian too!