Storm hails 10 years

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser

A football development program designed to prepare young footballers from the Great Southern to play at the highest level will celebrate a significant milestone this weekend.

The Great Southern Storm program will formally recognise a decade of success at its 10th anniversary function tomorrow night at Centennial Stadium

The brainchild of WA Football Hall of Fame member and former Royals coach Darrell Panizza, the Storm has helped produce nine AFL draftees, 14 WAFL league footballers and six State under-18 representatives since 2007.

Names including Jeremy McGovern (West Coast), Mitch McGovern (Adelaide), Marley Williams (Collingwood and North Melbourne), Declan Mountford (North Melbourne), Darcy Cameron (Sydney), Josh Bootsma (Carlton), Brenden Abbott (Collingwood), Angus Litherland (Hawthorn) and Jesse Laurie (Port Adelaide) are graduates from the program who have gone on to AFL ranks.

Founder Darrell Panizza said the Storm’s philosophy was about providing young country footballers the same opportunity to succeed as their city counterparts.

He said without the dedication, commitment and expertise of the volunteers the program would not have achieved its aim.

“We have built something now that is recognised in the AFL and WAFL that is a great pathway and best practice,” he said.

Storm chairman Joe Burton said the program had prepared young footballers living in the Great Southern to transition successfully to WAFL with Claremont Football Club and potentially AFL football.

He said the program had developed since its infancy to the stage where it was now the envy of other country leagues and the WA Football Commission had identified the Storm program as the best practice for a regional talent pathway.

“We identified our kids needed that little bit extra as they were poorly prepared for a WAFL pre-season and they needed a pathway to Perth so one thing led to another,” he said

Burton said the Storm’s board members since its inception had been pivotal to its success, and heaped praise for the on-field team, including running coach Basil Worner, current coach Phil Gilbert and original coach Andrew McGovern.

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