Collingwood defender Penny Cula-Reid joined children from Moe South Street Primary School at Ted Summerton Reserve in Moe on March 10, before putting them through their paces on the footy ground nearby.
Penny will be among many elite players who will regularly visit the Latrobe Valley under a groundbreaking sports package announced by Premier Daniel Andrews.
Under the deal, which includes an $85 million investment in community sporting infrastructure, sporting heroes from Collingwood Football and Netball Clubs, Melbourne Victory, Melbourne Stars, Melbourne United and Swimming Australia will regularly visit the region for pre-season games and training clinics.
Penny, who “bleeds black and white”, was recruited to Collingwood in 2016 from the St Kilda Sharks, and has been an influential figure in the development of the women’s game. “This is what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was two, so I’m living my dream,” Penny said.
The Victorian Government deal, which will see the Valley become one of the top sporting hubs in regional Australia, will create 275 ongoing jobs and another 300 jobs during construction, to start in the coming weeks. It includes a $12 million investment in a range of projects and programs, which will help footy to flourish in the Latrobe Valley.
The funding will be shared between 11 different football venues in the area, including a $3 million redevelopment at the Ted Summerton Reserve and a $4 million upgrade at Morwell Recreation Reserve.
Latrobe Valley Authority interim chief executive Kylie White said the investment was part of a strategy to diversify the local economy, attracting new industries and creating new jobs.
“This is one way we are working with industry, government and community groups to drive immediate, mid-term and long-term action, investment and development,” Ms White said.
“Local sporting clubs sit at the heart of our community and deliver enormous health, social and economic benefits. As well as benefiting from world-class facilities, our children will have exposure to fantastic role models, such as Penny.”