Mark Penaluna grew up in Port Melbourne before making Wyndham home back in 1992. Now, he is an entrenched member of the community and well-known as the chief executive of the Werribee Football Club. He sat down with Charlene Macaulay to talk footy, community and family.
What’s your connection to Wyndham?
I moved here from Port Melbourne in 1992, and was married the same year and had two kids, in 1994 and 1997.
Why did you move out west?
Affordable living – the prices in Port Melbourne had skyrocketed. In some ways Werribee and Wyndham is a lot like what Port Melbourne used to be – I very much enjoy the community feel that’s here, which you don’t have in those inner-city type areas.
How did you get involved with the Werribee Football Club?
I’ve been in footy all my life. I started playing at the age of six, and was later secretary of the Port Colts. In 1999 I became general manager of the now Western Region Football League, spent five years there, and in September 2003 became general manager of the Werribee Football Club.
You’re a member of the Committee for Wyndham, what other groups are you involved with?
I’d like to think through my association with the footy club that we’ve done our best in the employment of a full-time community manager, we’re the only club in the VFL that has that. We’ve sponsored each of the football clubs in the area, assisted the overseeing of the AusKicks in the area. As a club, we invest well over $150,000 [in these things] and I see a lot of pride and satisfaction by us being able to do those things.
Why do you think it’s important to be actively involved in your community?
It’s something I’ve just grown up with. My family are heavily involved in sport and school. [There’s nothing like] a team environment and a sense of purpose of everyone coming together and working towards something and enjoying each other’s company and celebrating or commiserating after a win or a loss.
What is your favourite sporting moment?
My proudest sporting moment would have been as an administrator when we opened [the upgraded Chirnside Park] in April this year.
If there was one thing you could change about Wyndham, what would that be?
I think we need to be somewhat braver and bolder in our aspirations. We’re the size of Geelong – does our facilities match what’s in Geelong at the moment? We’re going to be the size of Canberra in a few years … our facilities, where possible, should equate to what they have.
What’s your favourite Wyndham restaurant of cafe?
Definitely Chatterbox, that’s one I frequent a lot for meetings.