Former Adelaide Crows and Fremantle star Tony Modra and former Western Bulldogs and GWS onballer Ryan Griffen are two high profile football identities who are backing the Great Southern Football League (GSFL) Tender to host the 2021 SA Country Football Championships.
Both players won All Australian honours during their glittering careers and support the GSFL bid, along with Member for Mawson Leon Bignell, Southern Football League president Craig Warman, South Adelaide Football Club CEO Neill Sharpe, GSFL football ambassador John Griffen and SANFL Community League mentor David Shipway.
The GSFL jumped over its first hurdle on Monday, May 25, when the City of Victor Harbor voted unanimously to become a partner in the Tender process, which will go to the SANFL.
The South Australia National Football League cancelled the 2020 SA Country Football Championships scheduled for July 10-12 in Kadina amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The championships create a valuable pathway from regional football to SANFL and AFL men's and women's competitions, and deliver a significant economic impact for the host region.
Council endorsed a pre-budget commitment of $30,000 cash and $5000 of in-kind support, in the 2021-22 financial year, to enable the GSFL to submit a tender to host the event by the due date of November 2020.
If the tender to host is unsuccessful, any endorsed funding by council will be withdrawn from the 2021-22 budget.
The GSFL plans to host the 2021 Country Championships at the Victor Harbor and Encounter Bay ovals.
In previous years the SA Country Championships have generated in excess of $500,000 for townships such as Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Murray Bridge and Port Lincoln.
The Great Southern Football League, along with the Southern Football League (SFL) and Kangaroo Island Football League (KIFL), form the Southern Districts Zone and have never held the event, which has been running in its present format for 26 years.
The SA Country Football Championships include men's senior and women's senior teams from the six zones of South Australia, plus a match from SANFL League teams, which will include the South Adelaide Football Club and another team yet to be decided.
These championships showcase the best of country football encompassing all of the country regions in the state.
Teams will come from the 24 country football leagues who make up the six zones (Central Zone, Eastern Zone, Eyre Peninsula Zone, Murray South East Zone, Northern Zone and Southern Districts Zone).
GSFL president Terry Corcoran said in the proposal to council that the economic benefits were enormous, to the township and beyond, for areas such as accommodation.
"More than 450 beds will be required for players and officials alone, not to mention supporters who would attend from all over the state. The food and beverage industry would also benefit and local merchandising," Mr Corcoran said.
"Given the current circumstances that we all find ourselves with the COVID-19 virus, this would be a great way to assist local businesses in the Fleurieu Peninsula to regenerate after such trying circumstances. The event will be a major boost to the profile of Victor Harbor throughout the state and nationally.
"It is a great first step to have council as a partner and now the real work starts to have a successful Tender to the SANFL by November. I thank council very much for their support."
Tony Modra, who lives at Waitpinga, said he was very supportive of the GSFL's bid to host the championships.
"I live and work in this area and I raise my family here, so I have a great affiliation with our local community," Tony said.
"It is imperative we grab this opportunity to showcase the best in country football in 2021 on our own home soil and it is fantastic the council will partner us and help make it happen.
"I am a country boy and appreciate how important sport is to regional communities, and there is nothing better than having the chance to test your skills against other players from similar backgrounds and this is what these championships bring."
Ryan Griffen started his football career playing mini league for the then Goolwa Football Club, played SAPSASA, GSFL under 15 association football and then moved onto South Adelaide before being drafted.
"My career would not have happened without the support of my home club at Goolwa and the GSFL. We need to have our juniors aspire to play at the highest level possible and the GSFL's quest to host the SA Country Football Championships in 2021 is a step in this direction," Ryan said.
"The proposal has my full support, as there is little doubt that any 12, 13, 14 or 15-year-old kid that goes along to watch these championships will become motivated to follow the elite pathway in football.
"It happened to me and I am so fortunate to have the career I had."
City of Victor Harbor elected members had little hesitation in giving support to the concept.
"This will bring massive economic value to our region, as this is a high level championship and it will add a great deal of life to regional areas. It will be very competitive tendering for this event and if done right, will trigger the possibilities of holding other prestigious events," councillor Bryan Littlely said.
Councillor David Kemp said he hoped the Tender was successful.
"It is a fantastic initiative. It will bring thousands to our town and a great competition to be part of," he said.