Ben Buckley is stepping down as North Melbourne president and will be replaced by Sonja Hood, the fourth woman to lead an AFL club’s board and the Kangaroo’s first.
- Ben Buckley will hand the reigns to Sonja Hood in March, six months earlier than originally planned
- Hood joins fellow females Peggy O’Neal (Richmond), Kate Roffey (Melbourne) and Kylie Watson-Wheeler (Western Bulldogs) as president of an AFL club
- Buckley says he “couldn’t think of a better person to take the club into the next phase of our future”
Buckley will leave the post in March, six months earlier than originally planned, just short of completing nine years on the Kangaroos’ board.
Hood will then join Peggy O’Neal (Richmond), Kate Roffey (Melbourne) and Kylie Watson-Wheeler (Western Bulldogs) as president of an AFL club.
“For those of you who may not know Sonja, she is as North Melbourne as anyone I’ve met,” Buckley wrote in a letter to North members.
“She watched the Kangas from the terraces at Arden St as a little girl and has closely followed the ups and downs of the club ever since.
“Her love and understanding of North Melbourne extends past the football club, having served the local community keenly in her role as the CEO of The Huddle for five years from 2010-15.
It will end a long official association for Buckley at the Kangaroos.
The 54-year-old played 74 games for North between 1986 and 1993, before becoming president in 2016 after the long-serving James Brayshaw stepped aside.
Buckley said the club was well positioned to prosper after the Kangaroos announced in November they had cleared their debt for the first time in 34 years.
“It’s not a decision I took lightly but I feel the time is right for Sonja Hood to take the reins ahead of the coming AFL season,” he said.
“Off the field, we have cleared our debt for the first time in almost four decades, we are about to embark on an $8 million extension of our world-class Arden St home.”
Under coach David Noble, North have undergone a significant rebuild for the first time in the club’s modern history and finished with the wooden spoon last year.