Home' SA 50s Lifestyle : SA 50s Autumn 11 Contents 8 Autumn 2011
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South Australian football legend
John Halbert AM MBE understands
the importance of maintaining
fitness as one gets older.
After working for 36 years as a
teacher and lecturer in the area
of physical education and sports
studies, he is well qualified to
expound the benefits of fitness for
He also has first-hand experience,
being one of the State’s most
respected and well known football
John is an important part of the
history of the Sturt Football Club,
where he played 243 league games
from 1955-1968, claiming the club’s
Best and Fairest award on four
His talents as a centreman were
further rewarded when he won the
1961 Magarey Medal and in 1966
he captained Sturt’s premiership
After he hung up his boots he
took up coaching, taking charge at
Glenelg from 1979-82 followed by
two seasons at Sturt.
If that wasn’t enough, he was also
an outstanding cricketer and played
20 seasons at District level.
Fitness has always been an
important part of his life and today,
at age 73, John still makes time for
regular gym sessions and walks in
the local neighbourhood.
“There is no doubt that it is very
important to keep physically active
as you get older as it helps not only
your physical but your emotional
health,” he explains.
While he has dabbled in other sports
such as badminton over the years,
football has remained his “first
He still goes to watch his beloved
Blues every week and also travels to
AAMI Stadium to take in the weekly
It doesn’t matter if it is the Power
or Crows although his allegiance
is with the latter, having served as
Chairman of Selectors in the early
days of the club.
His involvement with football has
continued long after his retirement.
He was on the SANFL Commission
for 12 years, the last five as Vice
President, was a member of the
AFL’s Development Foundation
which looked after junior football
and was a member of the AFL Laws
Committee for 10 years.
While his passion for the sport is
evident, John says it is impossible
to compare football of today to the
game he played.
“It is an entirely different game
today. It is fully professional, players
train much longer and are much
fitter and stronger than we were.
The result is that it is a much faster
“But it is still football and I still love
He says the attention by the media
and interest from the general public
in the players’ off-field antics is also
“Back in my day there were plenty of
players who played up, but they were
not under the media scrutiny like the
players of today,” he explains.
John’s love of all things sport
spilled over to his life-long career.
Originally a PE teacher, he moved on
to lecture at teacher’s college and
then finished his academic career
as a university lecturer in physical
education and sports studies. In
1969, he was made a Member of
the British Empire for his work in
sport with young people.
“I love teaching and working with
young people and I really miss that
part of it.”
But retirement doesn’t mean he is
now sitting idly at home, looking for
things to do.
He continues to be involved in the
development of junior sport. Last
year he was part of a group that
looked at ways of improving junior
Continuing in our Where
Are They Now? series,
chats with John Halbert,
one of the State’s most
respected footballers of
the 1950s and 1960s.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
football in the State and this year he
is Chairman of a taskforce charged
with the development of netball in
the northern suburbs.
Every day he also assists his wife
Chris, who runs the Australian office
of Human Kinetics, a firm which
publishes educational material on
sport and fitness.
In 2009, he was humbled to be
named South Australian Senior of
the Year and in 2010 was awarded
an AM for his service to sport and
involvement n the community.
“That was a bit out of the blue
but I was very pleased to even be
This led to numerous speaking
engagements – mainly at Probus
meetings – which continue to this
day. His service to the community
also extends to his participation
in the Lutheran Church where he
is on the Board of Trinity Place, a
So, while he classifies himself
as being “retired”, the spritely
septuagenarian continues to be
active and is certainly a wonderful
role model for all seniors wanting to
maintain a healthy mind and body.
John’s love of all sports continues
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