When Kevin Sheedy was named Thinker of the Year in 2007, it made a lot of other people think – a football coach as Thinker of the Year?
The answer to that question is that Kevin Sheedy is more than a football coach.
He is a visionary.
He saw the Anzac Day blockbuster and made it happen, even in the face of opposition from the RSL, who initially thought it showed disrespect to the many Australians who had fought and died for their country.
These days the RSL is one of the Anzac Day’s biggest supporters.
The game has helped turn Anzac Day into one of the most important days on the calendar not just for returned soldiers and their families, but for all Australians.
Even relative newcomers to Australia celebrate Anzac Days.
Welcoming the newcomers has also been a part of Kevin’s vision for the country.
"When you look at how many people there are the world and how few there are in Australia, we all need to be thinking and working together here in Australia," he says.
He was the first coach to recruit a Muslim footballer when Bachar Houli joined Essendon.
He has embraced the Africans who have come to Australia as refugees, welcoming the likes of Majak Daw not just to the football community, but to the broader community.
Kevin also saw what football could do for young Aboriginal men, and what young Aboriginal men could do for football.
He was not the first to recruit an Aboriginal player, but he was the first to advocate it as a thing of mutual benefit for everyone involved.
Kevin’s relationship with Michael Long, built on the idea of both men learning as much about each other as they could about each other, is an exemplar for the rest of society.
Michael had no idea that Kevin’s Irish ancestors were as unhappy about being in Australia as the Aborigines were to have them here.
“They came out in chains,” Kevin told Michael.
Michael had never heard of the convicts.
Kevin’s promotion of Aboriginal people has helped many people change the way they think about Indigenous Australians.
He has never been frightened to say or do something that might at first seem wrong, even controversial.
He sees being prepared to get on the front foot about a subject, to get people talking about it, as a part of his leadership role in the community.
“Sometimes you’ve got to stir things up, to get people thinking about an idea they might not have thought of,” he said.
“I just love finding a few spare minutes in the day to think about thinking!”
No wonder they made him Thinker of the Year.