Albany’s Great Southern Storm Football Development Institute celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday October 20 with a special event to pay tribute to everyone involved over the journey.
The program, which has produced nine AFL draftees, 14 WAFL League players and six members of the Deppro WA State 18s Academy in the last decade, has received ongoing support from the local community and Claremont Football Club.
Great Southern Storm Chairman Joe Burton said that a very professional and well-run program, supported not only by all the GSFL clubs, but fully supported by the WA Country Football League, was now the envy of other country leagues throughout the State.
“All our local GSFL clubs – Albany, Denmark, Mount Barker, North Albany, Railways and Royals - must be congratulated on the quality of young men that you have nurtured and sent to our program. Their support is very much appreciated and must be ongoing,” he said.
“The Storm has also received great support from Claremont Football Club both financially and from the staff and coaches. With their assistance and continued guidance in our programming, we have produced nine AFL draftees, many WAFL League, Reserves and Colts players as well as GSFL players of high quality.
“It has been an exciting journey seeing the boys develop not only into great footballers but also great young men. In the future, I see these young men running football and gracing our television screens with their skills.”
Great Southern Storm founder Darrell Panizza said the concept was born from an ambition to make playing football at the highest level easier for kids living in the country.
“Having played in the WAFL and at State level and living the dream myself, I could see our players in the Great Southern being seriously disadvantaged. My idea was to prepare them so they would be physically capable of competing when they arrived in Perth,” he said.
“The Storm has had a huge impact in developing not just good footballers, the results can be seen in the change over the years in our Great Southern Football League, but also good moral citizens. We can be proud that football authorities acknowledge that our program has become ‘best practice’ in Western Australia.”
Claremont Football Club’s Football Manager Darcy Coffey said that despite already being a traditionally fertile football region, the creation of the Great Southern Storm program had further improved outcomes for everyone involved.
“Having a greater number of more able and better-adjusted players at Claremont is just one of a myriad of benefits the Storm delivers,” he said.
“Football as a sport gets boosted, the benefits to the local competition as well as general advances to the health and wellbeing of the local community are enormous. People are aware of the talent pathway, they have a better connection to it, and they can now almost plot the path to their dreams.
“As sure as the persistent rain that rolls into town and across the Great Southern, long may the Storm gather momentum and touch everything in its path. Everyone is better off.”
Brenden Abbott (Collingwood), Jeremy McGovern (West Coast), Declan Mountford (North Melbourne), Josh Bootsma (Carlton), Marley Williams (Collingwood/North), Mitchell McGovern (Adelaide), Darcy Cameron (Sydney), Angus Litherland (Hawthorn) and Jesse Laurie (Port Adelaide).
Claremont League players
Brenden Abbott, Jeremy McGovern, Declan Mountford, Matthew Palfrey, Darcy Cameron, Mitchell McGovern, Marley Williams, Bailey Bennett, Morgan Davies, Steven Edwards, Ben Saunders, Ben Higgs, Joel Coyne, Jesse Laurie.
Deppro WA State 18s
Marley Williams, Steven Edwards, Brenden Abbott, Darcy Cameron, Matthew Palfrey, Declan Mountford.