THE next generation of Koroit’s ever-successful youth program have absorbed football advice from one of the club’s favourite sons.
Essendon defender Marty Gleeson last night returned to the south-west to pass on pearls of wisdom to the Saints’ junior academy prospects.
His visit – which came just hours after the Bombers’ JLT Community Series curtain-raiser against Collingwood – was short and sharp, with the 22-year-old set to jet back to Melbourne to report for Essendon training on Saturday morning.
The rising star, who plied his trade at Victoria Park until he was drafted in 2012, hailed Koroit’s junior academy as one-of-a-kind in the south-west.
“I think when you see somebody from this region (in the AFL) you look at them and follow their story a little bit,” Gleeson said.
“I remember when I was younger I would definitely do that.
“It’s great to come back and to help out when you can with something like this.
“I think (the academy) is a great concept. I know a lot of people, including myself, growing up just love their footy and the chance to be a part of something like this.
“I know there are opportunities with Rebels squads and things like that but if you don’t get into those you have your local club. That’s why it’s important.”
Saints Academy and five-time Hampden league premiership coach Adam Dowie said the club was spoiled for choice in regards to role models for the academy program.
"With Marty, and even Willem Drew and James Gow now you’ve got some great role models,” he said.
“I think the club would probably have to be the envy of the south-west in terms of who they have going here. Being involved with the senior side’s three flags has been terrific.
"I think the great thing about Koroit is their vision and in that we have to make sure we’re focusing on the next generation.
“It’s very difficult to maintain that. Koroit is very impressive with how they have that vision with juniors and for us, it’s important to invest in that.”
Dowie said the coaching staff had put an emphasis on ensuring the academy sessions had not become “another football training”.
“We had Toby Pettigrew come to speak about recovery and preparation in the early days and different ways to recover,” he said.
“We’re also going to Melbourne in a couple of weeks to get in the rooms to hopefully see how different clubs go about it.”