From Tradesman to Voice of the Community

From Tradesman to Voice of the Community

In the heart of the Yarra Ranges, nestled within the buzzing frequencies of Yarra Valley FM 99.1. A voice resonates—Nelson Aldridge. AFL SportsReady alumni, First Nations Speaker and MC, now captivating audiences as the host of his very own radio show every second Friday from 12 to 1 pm.
Nelson’s time with AFL SportsReady is one of determination and growth, snapping up opportunities through his traineeship.

His story begins with a transition from a career as a tradesman, a path that took a turn after a serious injury. Rupturing his Achilles in 2018 leaving him reevaluating everything in his life.

Enter AFL SportsReady and Yarra Ranges Shire Council. Where Nelson embraced not one but two traineeships that would shape the course of his life. From October 2019 to October 2020, he sunk his teeth into the business side of things, honing his skills and gaining a Certificate III in Business.
This journey continued well into October 2021, where he transitioned into an Indigenous Development Traineeship, deepening his connection to his heritage and earning a Certificate IV in Business.

Throughout this period, Nelson was not alone. Guided by AFL SportsReady’s Field Officer Andrew Belli and Mentor Ralph White, he found unwavering support and mentorship.

He believes he wouldn’t be sitting in the radio studio right now if it wasn’t for the opportunities that came about because of the traineeship.

“I’m really grateful for my time, at AFL SportsReady”

Navigating the challenges of the pandemic, like many of us Nelson transitioned to online work and study. Overcoming any coursework obstacles with determination and the support of his educator, Kylie from NSW. Her encouragement and commitment to Nelson’s success went beyond academics, fostering personal growth and accountability.

His traineeship opened unexpected doors, propelling him into the world of radio. Now a familiar voice at Yarra Valley FM 99.1, Nelson’s Indigenous Speaker and MC role extends far beyond the studio.

With school visits, inspirational talks, reaching a pinnacle during a live-streamed event at Federation Square in Melbourne’s CBD during Reconciliation Week.
Among his cherished memories are engaging conversations with iconic figures like Adam Goodes, Paul Roos and Daniel Rioli.

But Nelson’s impact doesn’t stop at the microphone. Beyond the confines of the radio studio, Nelson is making waves in the community with the Yarra Ranges Council. As a Cultural Recovery Coordinator, he plays a vital role in disaster relief, infusing and a deep connection to Country showcasing his commitment to fostering resilience in the face of adversity.

Where he brings First Nations perspectives to the forefront, emphasising the importance of acknowledging the impact on the land itself.

Reflecting on the storms that battered the Dandenong Ranges in June 2021, Nelson passionately advocates for recognising the damage inflicted upon the country, urging us to shift our attention from infrastructure to the environment that sustains us.

In the wake of these experiences, Nelson’s commitment to community and country has become more than a job—it’s a calling.

His plans include a proactive approach to disaster management, emphasising First Nations culture and its profound connection to the land.

The accolades he has received, including being named the 2020/21 AFL SportsReady’s Trainee of the Year. Stand as testaments to his dedication in shaping his career.
The recognition is not just for his accomplishments in business. But also for his commitment to weaving First Nations perspectives into every facet of his work.

Looking back, Nelson acknowledges AFL SportsReady’s vital role in his life.

“There’s no way I’d be where I am today without AFL SportsReady,”

he reiterates, expressing gratitude for the opportunities that emerged through his traineeships.

His journey from a tradie questioning everything to a respected voice in the community demonstrates the power of education, mentorship and seizing opportunities.
Once uncertain about his future, Nelson Aldridge now stands as an inspiration. He has demonstrated the incredible impact that can be achieved when passionate individuals are given the support and opportunities.

As he eagerly anticipates showcasing First Nations music artists on Triple M’s Homegrown show.
Nelson’s story continues to unfold, inspiring a new generation to pursue their dreams with determination and resilience.

If you’ve recently completed your Traineeship,
join our Alumni!