Ross Tungatalum’s journey to Birralee Park

Moving interstate for a season of football is challenging at the best of times, but for Ross Tungatalum it must feel like entering a whole new world.

When I met Ross at Darwin airport he had no phone, wallet, ID or football boots, but he held a sense of excitement about the upcoming season with Wodonga Raiders in the Ovens and Murray competition.

Tungatalum hails from the Tiwi Islands, which is 80km north of Darwin and has a population of just 3000 people.

It is a laidback lifestyle on the Islands and football plays a huge role in bringing everyone together.

The shy 24-year-old has already packed so much into his football career.

After a brief stint on St Kilda’s rookie list, he has spent time with UWS Giants, Sydney Hills Eagles and NT Thunder in the NEAFL and also St Arnaud in the North Central Football League in country Victoria.

But most notably he has excelled for many years in the strong NTFL competition with the Tiwi Bombers.

Tungatalum is lightning quick and has arguably the best skill-set of any player outside of the AFL.

His highlight video on YouTube is a testament to some of the freakish things he is able to do on the football field.

I first played on Tungatalum when I was an 18-year-old in my fifth senior NTFL game in the second semi-final in 2012.

Tiwi Bombers were the raging premiership favourites and Tungatalum was their standout player and highly fancied to win the league best and fairest.

I held him fairly well for the first three quarters only for him to kick three mercurial goals in the final term to essentially win the match for them.

As Raiders coach Daryn Cresswell said “he has the ability to turn a game on its head” and this is exactly what he did on this, and many other, occasions.

There is an air of confidence and excitement as to what Ross Tungatalum may bring to Birralee Park this season.

Despite looking a little rusty and barely getting out of first gear, he kicked six goals against Doncaster East in the Raiders’ 113-point win in the trial match on Saturday.

Of course the Ovens and Murray defenders will not give Ross a free reign this season but there is one thing for certain.

I am happier playing on his side than playing against him.

About Jackson Clark

Born and bred in Darwin, Northern Territory, I am a young, aspiring football writer that lives and breathes the game of Australian Football. I'm also a keen player and coach.


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    Loved this report, I always have a feeling of anticipation when I read about a new aboriginal talent not previously known to most. I really hope that he makes the big time one day so that we can all see him in action.

  2. Keiran Croker says

    I might have to take a drive up the highway from Melbourne to see him play! Interested to see Daryn Cresswell is coaching up there as well.

  3. Geoff Nixon says

    After having a couple of poor seasons in recent years the Raiders started the 2015 season on Sat with a win against Wang by 29pts.
    The O&M is attracting some high profile ex-AFL players with Akker coaching North Albury and Daz coaching the Raiders and Fev the O&M squad for the inter-league match in May.

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