ABC News Breakfast sports presenter, journalist, writer and documentary maker Paul Kennedy is a strapping Seaford sort. This father of three footy fanatical boys (12, 10 and 6) loves the Bayside life surrounded by his extended family, including his parents, two sisters, a brother and all their children hunkered down in the same seaside suburb. Life is sweet for this easy to speak with lover of local and international sport, even though dragging himself out of bed at 3.30am to be in town for his morning television gig has weariness written all over it. He explains. “We’re coming up to our 10-year anniversary of News Breakfast in early November and, well, I’m in my 40s now and feeling the fatigue, but I love the show. It gives me the time to do more kicking of the footy with the kids and be with (wife) Kim.”
Then there’s the footy coaching. “I’m currently coaching the under-12s Carrum Patterson Lakes Juniors. My oldest son plays for them. I’ve also coached within the school system and various junior leagues across the Peninsula, including Mornington and Frankston. Short assignments work best for me now to fit in with the workload and family commitments. I need some more time to write books and make more documentaries.”
I’ve just finished reading the blurb for Fifteen Young Men, written by Paul and published by Random House Australia (2016), when we chat. Paul recaps the maritime tragedy of the sinking of the Process off the coast of the Peninsula in 1892 in this grief-gouging yet uplifting story. Fifteen young men died on their return from Mordialloc after playing footy. The event brought the Mornington Football Club to its knees for decades. “I’ve written four books and am keen to do more investigative journalism; get to the core of a story. The sinking of the Process changed the face of that community. It was devasting.”
His documentaries, Undeniable (Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse) and Called Out, will be followed by another. “That’s what my long service leave will be for, as well as heading to the beach, park or pool with the kids. I’m deeply interested in pursuing human stories.” After all, that’s what sport is about — human connection, compassion, persistence, failure and triumph. Just life.
Watch this space for more riveting reads and reporting from a man who’s covered the Rio Olympics and Commonwealth Games and recently said on radio that Frankston offers up more NBA players than anywhere else in Australia. “What I really meant was that Frankston has some outstanding basketball talent, including Dave Anderson and Ryan Broekhoff. There’s a lot of great home-grown talent across all sports on the Peninsula.”
Fair call, Paul. Fair call. Check him out supporting inclusive, safe and fair sport @ playbytherules on Facebook too.