SUNRISE SPORTS PRESENTER
Sports presenter Mark Beretta on being crowned 2019’s Australian Father of the Year.
You have just been named 2019’s Australian Father of the Year. You’re in ﬁne company with past winners including former prime minister John Howard, artist Ken Done and scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, among many others. How does that feel? I feel like I’d better go! [Jokingly gets up to leave.] It’s really humbling. I feel very out of my league. I’d like to think I’m just a normal dad. But look, if it’s something that makes people think about the roles dads play, it’s a good thing. What constitutes a good dad? It’s about keeping an eye on everything happening around you and being able to listen. I have an engineering background so I’m into resolutions – if you give me a problem, I will give you a solution. That’s apparently not always the right thing to do; sometimes you should just listen.
What did your wife Rachel and your kids [Ava, 15 and Dan, 12, all pictured at right] think when you told them you had won? They were very excited. And they thought it was hilarious.
Does winning mean you never have to do the dishes again, walk the dog or take out the rubbish? Absolutely. I just sit on the throne now. No, I’ll be busier than ever. There will be extra things for me to do.
Speaking of things to do, you have recently joined the Army Reserves. How many push-ups did you have to do to get in? I did 15 push-ups, 45 sit-ups and you have to do the beep test – you have to run 20 metres and you have to keep up with the beeps. So it beeps, and the beeps get faster. I’m 53 and I’m trying to do what the new recruits do at 18.
One of the criteria for being nominated for Father of the Year is to be an inspirational role model. You must be one because you’ve won it, but who are your role models? I would probably go to my own dad, ﬁrst up. He’s always had a tremendous sense of community. That instilled in me the sense of giving back, and I think I may have got that through to my children as well. If I had one legacy, or one thing I’m most proud of, it’s hopefully giving the kids the sense that they are part of a bigger community and it’s important to take the time to give back to that community. I also take a lot of inspiration from Kochie [Sunrise co-host David Koch]. He is someone I’ve looked up to for a long time; he’s an amazing man in what he’s done in his life and just his whole attitude to people. He’s a very warm, caring person for a huge, big fella.
Does your dad’s parenting style inform your own? Apparently they’re almost identical! Like all children, I thought I would do something different, but apparently not. No, look, it’s amazing. I’m happy about that.
So basically you’re saying your father should claim credit for your award. [Laughs.] He’s incredibly humble. He would never even think about that. Whereas if Dan won it, I’d certainly take the credit.
Do you remember the moment when you ﬁrst became a father? Every second. I remember the music I was listening to driving back to the
hospital every morning, to see Rachel, to bring them home. And that moment of driving out of the hospital, where all of a sudden you are handed this beautiful bundle of a person. “Over to you now, you gotta do this!” And they forgot to give us the instructions, like they do for everyone [laughs]. It’s the greatest thing to happen in life.
After more than 15 years on the Seven Network’s Sunrise, what do you think are the best and worst parts of breakfast TV? We can’t do anything on weeknights. And on Friday nights, we are so tired – you’re just exhausted a lot. But I love it, and it’s a privilege. I work with an incredible team who I continually admire and respect.
Today is Father’s Day. How will you spend it? I would love to do a big barbecue and have some friends over. My mum and dad are in Geelong so it’s unlikely I’ll see my dad, but I’ll give him a ring and have a good chat. They’ve been going through a bit of a tough time at the moment; my mum’s having chemo. She’s going good. They are just fantastic inspirations as parents. They’ve had a wonderful marriage for the better part of 50-plus years. And they’ve raised three boys, who’ve not always been on the right track. We all deviate a little bit. But I think they’re generally proud of us.
What is the toughest thing you’ve learnt as a dad? Oh, there are so many things I’ve learnt. We’re at a really tricky stage with Ava at the moment. Year 9 is quite notorious. I am dealing with the parties on Friday and Saturday nights. And something I thought I’d always be pretty cool with, but turns out I’m not, is the outﬁts that go out the door sometimes. So I look at Rach and she just says, “Don’t say anything.” But, you know, it’s your little baby growing up, and all of a sudden the skirts are a little bit shorter than you might like and the tops are a little more midriff than you might have thought was the way to go, but what do you do? You just suck it up and keep your bloody mouth shut.
“Oh, there are so many things I’ve learnt… You just suck it up and keep your mouth shut”