One of WA’s longest serving football administrators, Grant Dorrington, is set to start the next chapter of his long career in the game when he steps down as the WAFC’s Director of Pathway and Competitions at the end of July.
Grant has spent more than 38 years in a range of football roles during a dynamic period in which the sport has been transformed into a modern game with almost 150,000 players registered in Western Australia playing across all levels of competition, giving football by far and away the largest participation base in organised sports. His career as an administrator covers the four decades in which the WAFC, West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers were established, the current talent development system was created, Peel Thunder joined the WAFL, and the AFL partnering model was agreed for the WAFL.
WAFC Chairman, Frank Cooper, said Western Australian football was indebted to Grant for his passionate and tireless service to the game and, in particular, his focus on the talent development stream that ensures the game remains the most exciting and most played sport in the State. Grant’s commitment to the game and the time he spends investing in and supporting others has been exceptional.
"Individuals like Grant are what makes football the strongest sport in Western Australia. The best measure of his long-term impact is the way we nurture and develop great players at all levels of the game in Western Australia and maintain the integrity of our competitions. There is no footy without players and Grant can rightly be proud of his achievements in guiding the District system and the WAFL."
WAFC Chief Executive Gary Walton said that Grant had an unrivalled insight into all levels of the game and his contribution would be missed by everyone who worked with him developing talent pathways and supervising the local competitions.
"I personally thank Grant for his support, knowledge and advice during my time at the WAFC, particularly his assistance during the introduction of the AFL partnering model to the WAFL, as this will prove to be another important evolution for footy. His drive has been unwavering and this will continue over the next few months as we complete an appropriate transition of his role."
While stepping down from his day-to-day operational role in football, Grant believes it is highly unlikely that he will cease his involvement in the game he loves.
"I remain as passionate about footy now as when I started playing WAFL Reserves for East Perth almost 47 years ago. I am fortunate to have been able to spend most of my working life helping to grow the game and to be involved in the momentous changes that have created the sport we enjoy today."
"All of us have a time to step back from a busy working life and I believe now is the appropriate moment for me because football is commencing another significant evolution that will take the best part of a decade to complete, including the new stadium, start of AFL partnering in the WAFL and the rise of women’s football to a national competition."
"I have had the privilege to work with so many wonderful and talented people during my football journey and learned something from all of them. My colleagues at the WAFC and in the competitions, players, coaches, volunteers and many, many other people all make a huge contribution to the success of the game and they have contributed to the success and enjoyment of my career as an administrator, coach, commentator and player. I thank them all."
Grant’s involvement in football has been so extensive that it is difficult to summarise, however his story can be presented as four chapters. His key roles, achievements and awards are detailed below:
Player & Coach
· 1966- 1971: Reserves and League football with East Perth (played 46 League games, retiring at 21 due to concussion)
· 1974-1981: East Perth coaching roles including Colts, Assistant League and Reserves coach and League coach
· 1982 – 1984: Channel 7 and ABC television commentator
· 1984 – 1986: Coach of WA Teal Cup (U/18s)
· 1985: Coach of Western Australian Champions and All Australian Coach – JJ Leonard Coach of the Year.
Establishment of the modern game in Western Australia
· 1987 – 1990: Employed by the Football Development Trust with responsibility for youth, secondary schools and talent pathways during the period covering the establishment of the WAFC and West Coast Eagles
· 1991 – 1992: General Manager of the Football Development Trust
Further development of the AFL and WAFL
· 1993 – 1994: Director of Football WAFC
· 1995 – 1996: Part of establishment of Fremantle Football Club (Dockers) in role of Manager Special Projects including naming, branding, the song, and recruitment of key personnel
· 1997: Consulting role for the establishment of Peel Thunder in WAFL
· 1997: General Manager WAFL competition
· 2001: Director of Football WAFC – included overseeing WAFL competition and football development, with a growth of participation from 67,000 to 131,000 in 10 years.
· 2011 – 2013: Director of Pathways and Competition
· 1979: awarded British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of leadership and management of WA’s 150 year Celebration in the areas of Sport, Recreation & Youth.
· 2000: Australian Sports Medal for outstanding service to WA football.
· 2012: Australia Day honour OAM (Order of Australia) for outstanding leadership of Road Safety in WA and contribution to WA football development and the WAFL.