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Matthew Kennedy (Melbourne Catholic/Fiona Basile)

After coming so close to making the AFL Grand Final last year, Carlton midfielder Matthew Kennedy is committed to being part of his team’s effort to claim the 2024 premiership flag. But so, too, is he committed to his faith and family. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

Matthew dreamed of being a professional football player from when he was 12 years old. He grew up in a small country town called Lockhart in New South Wales, and later in San Isidore, another small town just outside Wagga Wagga. 

Growing up, he enjoyed a loving and close-knit family life, where “going to Mass every Sunday was the normal thing to do”. His father often reminded him to “say your prayers, be good and go to Mass every Sunday”.

At 18, he was drafted to the AFL to play for Greater Western Sydney in 2016 before moving to Carlton at the end of the 2017 season. He said it was difficult moving to Melbourne

“I really struggled because I went from growing up with and going to Mass with my family every week and having a community around me at my local parish, to now being on my own. And because I probably wasn’t true to myself and my faith – I wasn’t open about it and honest from the start – I felt like I was living a double life. I was the footy player and just one of the boys during the week, but then on a Sunday I was a practising Catholic.”

Kennedy says he became focused on football and the success of his career, losing sight of the bigger picture. He wasn’t invested in his faith at all. 

Kennedy credits his return to his faith to when he met the family of his future wife, Mary-Anne Canavan, and working with Carlton’s psychologist, Dr Tara Kavanagh.

“She taught me how to separate Matthew Kennedy the footballer from Matthew Kennedy the person,” he says. “Footy is just something that I do, but I’m much more than just a footy player. Now I know that my purpose alongside footy is faith and family.”


Carlton’s Matthew Kennedy on faith, family and footy (By Fiona Basile, Melbourne Catholic)