This is a continuation of a series to discover what makes Canberra special to all the incredible people who live here.
Jon Thiele is, in essence, a very busy man who is passionate about sport and people. As president of the Tuggeranong Football Club, his desire is to help develop juniors, which are the majority of the 1,100 people registered at his club. While his day job includes being the Assistant Director of Human Resources in AUSTRAC, he is passionate about local football in Canberra and for that reason is the ACT representative at the Association of Australian Football Clubs.
His passion and talent for sport have led him to represent the Australian Defence Force in Aussie Rules, which gave him opportunities he would never have had. One such opportunity was being involved in meetings with Kevin Sheedy while inaugurating the first Anzac day game. But that does not mean that Jon is a fan of all aspects of sport. One of Jon’s bugbears is the commentary of sport and he believes, as a former member of the Navy, that the term hero is thrown around flippantly.
“You hear sports commentary saying things like ‘He is a hero’ or ‘He is gone with his head over the ball. He is courageous’. That’s BS. This is sport; this has nothing to do with whats happening in Iraq, Pakistan and the World Wars. People aren’t dying here, so don’t link it to a war situation.”
Jon likes to think of himself as a person who is not highly strung but that all changes when he is affected by the notorious Canberra drivers. He is definitely a glass half full kinda guy because “I would not have been the president of a football club for 14 years if I wasn’t”.
His philosophy in life is simple: “Would you say that to your grandma? No? Then why should I say it to anybody? ”
Name: Jon Thiele
Age: 48 in a couple of days
Occupation: Assistant Director of HR in Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), President of Tuggeranong United Football Club, board member of Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC).
How long have you lived in Canberra? I was born and bred in country South Australia, in a little town called Loxton. I joined the Navy as a 17-year-old because I couldn’t wait to get out of town. I love the place, but there was nothing going on back there. I actually came to Canberra in 1987 before I was posted to sea. I fell in love with the place the first time I was here even though I was only here for five to six weeks. I bought a house in Canberra in 1993 and that is when I count myself as a Canberran.
What sport did you play growing up? Growing up in the seventies in South Australia, you played cricket in the summer and you played Aussie Rules footy in the winter. That’s just the way it was. It was only once my kids started playing football that I got involved in the round ball game.
What is your favourite thing about Canberra? A few to be honest, but overall it has to be the people. The blend of people we have in Canberra is what makes Canberra what is. It is like a big county town where everyone knows each other. You could rattle off six different names and I would have heard that name, or know someone that knows that person or would even know you myself, especially if you have been involved with the Tuggeranong Football Club.
It is also geographically the best location. The beach is only a few hours away, the snow is only a few hours away, and Sydney is only a few hours away. I don’t want to live in any of those places, but it is easily accessible for me when I want to go there.
What do you loathe about Canberra? What I loathe about Canberra has to be the Canberra drivers. Oh my goodness me. I experienced it only this morning. I consider myself a reasonably patient driver, but they are just ignorant. They are oblivious to what’s happening on the road around them. It really is a first world problem.
What Canberra local do you most admire and why? This is the question that I have thought the most about. There is not a particular person that I admire, there are too many people. It is more a type of person that I admire. I admire the people that put others first, that are involved with not-for-profit organisations, the people that get involved with their local sporting club, and the people that give their time to charities. I respect the people who are willing to give back to the community in any shape or form. I also admire those people that, through their own ingenuity, build a business and those that are self-made and are willing to have a go and a can-do attitude.
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What is a question that you would like to ask everyone in Canberra? What do we, as the residents of Canberra, want our town (because I believe it is a town) to be like in 10 to 20 years time? Because we can shape the future of Canberra.