Never before has state and national attention been so firmly focused on Port Pirie in such a positive sense with the city now just two months away from hosting the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide.
The JLT game to be played at the jewel that is the redeveloped Memorial Oval Sporting Precinct in March marks football’s first use of what is the primary home of the sport in the city.
Some of our greatest sporting talent has been developed and nurtured on that very oval.
AFL umpire Brodie Kenny-Bell, now based in Sydney, is no exception.
The Recorder has chronicled the development of Kenny-Bell from his days as a teenager umpiring local football games to his leap into SANFL and then his taste of the big-time with AFL.
While a student at St Mark's College, he started his umpiring career at the age of 15 with the Port Pirie Umpiring Association. Kenny-Bell played football for the Port Bulldogs but soon realised he was better suited to umpiring and worked as a goal umpire in the SGL from 2006 to 2008.
After impressing in the SGL, he moved to Adelaide where he started umpiring SANFL matches from 2009 to 2013.
He spent 2014 umpiring the Sydney-based games of the North East Australian Football League and made his official AFL debut in 2015.
His AFL career continues to blossom and he has collected accolades along his umpiring journey on the national stage.
Having Kenny-Bell return home to umpire, where his career and aspirations first developed, would be the ultimate endorsement of a facility that should serve to nurture more sporting talent in the years and decades to come.
Who knows who might be the next national star to continue to make Port Pirie proud?
It would also serve as a reminder to the rest of the nation that football talent doesn’t just develop within the confines of metropolitan cities.
The regions and regional centres, like Port Pirie, where grassroots sports are like no other, are where some of our best and brightest on the sporting scene emerge from and take Australia by storm with their abilities.