Luke Valente, Elite Leader



Luke Valente, winner of the SA Most Valuable player in the Under 18 Championships and victorious SA Captain, is a very promising footballer but more importantly is a GUN kid. I first had the pleasure of meeting Luke in 2013 with our trials for the East Adelaide side for the South Australian Primary Schools footy championships. Tim Weatherald was coach and I was his assistant, it was very early in the first training session we walked towards each other and said simultaneously we have got our captain!



Luke is without doubt the best and most natural junior leader I have ever met. He took our warm ups for that week, was very constructive even at that age of his leadership angle. Weathers and I probably let him go more and have more influence on the group that any other child before or after as he was so natural. Luke’s leadership and his ability to bring others into the game were a huge part of East Adelaide winning the 2013 championship (Weathers and I were as pumped as the kids). He has maintained and continues to develop friendships with Tom Mattis, Will Warwick, Sam Barnett and Toby Kennett and others from that side which shows precisely the type of kid he is.



Luke went to Marryatville Primary School, his parents Scott and Brigitte are both just very genuine people, the no fuss no garbage type and along with his sister Jemma are very encouraging. I also have fond memories of Luke and Scott having a hit of cricket at the Pembroke nets when I was doing some other coaching. Luke, despite by his own admission being a far better footballer than cricketer was always keen to listen and learn, his ability to process information and then improve from it has always been elite.


Luke has been at Rostrevor from Year 8 and played juniors for Walkerville FC. In Year 9 Luke made the Under 15 state side (Jack Lukosius and Jackson Hately were teammates). In Year 10 Luke played First 18 footy for Rostrevor College and the State Under 16 side, and played his first reserves game for Norwood late in the season.

He tried out for the state 18s side in 2017, making the squad but missing out on the overall team. For the team this season there was an initial squad of 65 chosen, having mainly athletic tests in November and a camp in December of 2017. This really was a state academy progression and then in February training and internal trials, from there a new group of 65 or so was chosen with 10 to 15 changes and then through other trials the eventual team was chosen with Luke’s leadership abilities a stand out, being named captain.

The other players in the leadership group were Tom Lewis (Sturt), Jez McLennan (Central Districts), Jack Lukosius (Woodville West Torrens) and Jackson Hately. Let’s remember that this is a hugely talented group of juniors including Izak Rankine, Connor Rozee along with Hateley and Lukosius, expected to go top 10 in the draft at the end of this season. So to be named captain was a huge feather in Luke’s cap.


During the carnival coach Tony Bamford gave the leadership team a lot of responsibility, kept hammering to stick to the game style, to continue to run and take the game on and then during the breaks the main tactical changes were made. Luke makes the point Tony’s ability to develop relationships was his greatest strength and in my book that was very astute as with such a wealth of ability that was exactly what the doctor ordered. The 2018 group is probably the most talented since the halcyon days of the early ’80s when Garry McIntosh, John Platten, Stephen Kernahan, Chris McDermott ,Tony McGuinness etc. came through together.

Watching the Grand Final at Geoff Wilson’s house I may have been a tad boisterous when Luke was the recipient of a encroachment free kick (Vic Metro not having enough players in the correct zones). He kicked the goal from the resultant free kick. I was rapt with how clean Luke was with his hands and his vision as usual was exceptional. I was delighted and just so rapt to find out later in the night that Luke had won the South Australian MVP (an interesting time of the night you replied to the message Luke!).



Luke’s influences in footy have been from his manager Michael Doughty, where Luke makes the point that Michael’s honesty has been fantastic explaining the areas he needs to improve in. One of these is Luke isn’t blisteringly quick – good mate Stefan Giro, who is now at Fremantle, has helped in this area getting Luke to join the fast twitch gym which specialises in athletic development. Luke feels he is now running and getting across the ground far better (why not learn off Stefan in this area he is in the top few in the game).

Luke goes back a fair way with James Saywell, who reviews a lot of Luke’s games with him and Luke has done a lot of extra training with James’s son with James observing. Luke also has appreciated Jimmy ‘Triple Magarey’ Allan’s words of wisdom about what to expect in his draft year. Luke can see both the advantages of the draft age being raised to allow Year 12 to be the main focus (I admit I am in favour) but also has seen kids who are more than capable of playing AFL footy in 2019.


From a purely Norwood perspective, the Jacobs Kennerley and Collins both outside midfielders, ruckman James Siviour, Kabe Chandler a high half forward and Ben Jarvis third tall in defence are all genuine chances to be drafted. Why clubs are not individually compensated for players being drafted has me beat (it just goes in to a pool to be distributed evenly, it’s not encouraging clubs to work their zones to the utmost and try and get kids drafted).


Luke is not only Captain of Rostrevor College footy wise, he is also captain of the school and with the other prefects he leads fund raising for events with organizations such as
Beyond Blue and White Ribbon Day, the role also involves a lot of public speaking (Luke excels). He mentioned that he has had a really good term at school making the point Rostrevor is very accommodating if he needs time to finish an assignment, he emphasises that he has had to learn to be very efficient in time organization.


I said to Luke the school is fine with you in that area due to your work ethic. Just like Tony Bamford was telling him, if he had to miss training due to school that was fine. Being so diligent in general has earned him that trust and respect. Luke was a tad sheepish when I asked him what his cooking skills were like with the real prospect he will be living in a different state in 2019 and he better hurry up and learn (I can see Brigitte nodding in agreement). Just burst in to the Legs league team and hold the Thomas Seymour Cup ok?!! Bloody good aim and dream to have. There is also a Valente Norwood family link, with Luke justifiably proud of his Granfather Joseph being a Norwood FC Life Member with a merit award for off field services in the 1980s.


Summing up, Luke is a quality kid who I will follow closely whereever he ends up and that our friendship will well and truly be ongoing, good luck mate!




  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Great write up Malcolm.
    Was very impressed by Luke (and all of his South Australian teammates) in the game against Vic Metro.
    Look forward to following his career.

  2. Luke Valente says

    Thanks for the write up Malcolm. Appreciate the support. Go the croweaters!

  3. Dave Brown says

    Seems like a corker, Rulebook. Hopefully he can sneak his way into the Redlegs’ seniors so we get the privilege of seeing him play before the AFL calls.

  4. Rulebook – check out Our Sporting Life SA post on Luke a month before the tournament – I only saw Luke play for a half!

    He should be playing SANFL league footy before a number of the high priced Imports at your club!

    Tony Bangers Bamford called it an inspired choice by the the playing group to select Luke as captain!

    Also there has been a number of very handy leaders since Ben Rutten captained the under 18s in 2001
    Jack Trengove is the best of them in 2009
    Shannon Hurn was pretty handy in 2005
    and Luke Dunstan took the team to the title in 2103
    Luke Valente – is a cracking young man – and it on the podium somewhere !

  5. ian london says

    Malcolm, an excellent article. Luke is a real credit to our state as are the rest of the team.

  6. Jill Tahtra says

    Sounds like we have another great SA player on the way but I bet we can`t keep him in our state. I don`t think either the Crows or Power will have a low enough pick sadly. All the best to him and all the others too as it seems as if we have a great lot of under 18`s this year.

  7. Nice article Book. Not that I know of any of Luke’s achievements or pedigree it would seem that he is destined for a footy career beyond NFC!

  8. Michael Rehn says

    A great write up Malcolm about a very talented young man who by all reports will reach some very lofty heights in his football career, given that he has the strength of character and leadership capacity to combine with his undoubted natural ability. We, who support the Norwood Football Club are very proud of your achievements thus far, and wish you every success in the future.
    Selfishly I support only Norwood, so it’s a little disappointing to know your future deeds will be at a higher level in someone else’s colours, but living in Melbourne as I do now, I proudly tell anyone that Luke Valente is from Norwood….my team !!!

  9. Mark Duffett says

    Reading this, my wistful hankering for recruiting zones to be brought back gets all the stronger.

  10. Daryl Buttery says

    Great piece Malcolm as usual. This young man would look even better in a Port Adelaide jumper. Here’s hoping.

  11. Martin Rumsby says

    Best wishes to Luke. He is obviously a young man with many attributes that go beyond having excellent football skills.

  12. Tim Weatherald says

    Great article rulebook. We definitely saw some great footballers over our sapsasa years but luke was definitely one of the best. Will always remember that sapsasa carnival and Luke as the captain. Even the little celebration show he organised a few weeks later for all the players and families to attend was a great memory. I am sure Luke is in for a long career and deserves all his success. Was a pleasure to have been a small part of his football journey.

  13. A great write-up, RB!
    Interesting to read about Luke’s background, upbringing and leadership traits.

    A very thoughtful point you raise about clubs being compensated for developing players.

  14. I’m sure Luke is destined for a big future but it would good if he played a few senior games for us so that supporters get to see him and he is remembered as a Norwood player.
    I agree with your comments about the signing fees getting pooled now. Not much inducement for local clubs to develop young players

  15. Stephen Taylor says

    Great write up Malcolm, especially as the main focus of the carnival regarding the SA side has revolved around Rankine and Lukosius.
    Was good to see that Luke was willing to take the advice of his manager about the areas of his game to improve and to act on those. (The fast twitch gym is a place that Myles Poholke and a couple of others should give a call over the summer as it’s an area that Adelaide struggles with. )
    Was great to see the Croweaters holding up the cup again as the best state in u18 and u16 football.
    Cheers, Steve.

  16. Great article Rulebook. Luke definitely looks like a natural leader and his skills are sublime. What’s even more compelling here is that this year’s SA Under 18 side was one of the best teams produced for a long time. Therefore, seeing Luke stand out and excel the way he has bodes well for a promising AFL career. Keep up the great work supporting SA’s next generation of footballers, Rulebook!

  17. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Luke yes there is some talent to follow in the future.Luke a pleasure and as Weathers says a pleasure to be a small part of your footy journey.Dave hope so we will be supporting strongly what ever time slot,Luke is playing.Peter I don’t have any problem with who we have recruited he is a v natural leader ironically a few of us were talking about his similarities with,Trenners yes it is a impressive list and Luke is a ripper.Ian thank you and very much so.Jill it is a extremely talented group and as I said to Luke he better do some cooking lessons.Chris v much so and thank so.Michael my main interest in the afl is following individuals like,Luke as always love your passion for the legs.Mark yes I’m v much in the same camp.Darryl his family will be rapt if that happens.Martin you would love him as a student ticks those boxes as well.Weathers agree with every letter yes what he organised another example of a thoughtful caring young man.Smokie yes I just don’t get it not rewarding the clubs individually and as WH says not much of a incentive to work your zone and really hard to justify the expense.WH hope,Luke plays some league games.Steve Luke is v complimentary of the fast twitch gym and thank full to the running machine,Stefan Giro and very enjoyable to see our junior suceeses thanks folks

  18. Brigitte Valente says

    Thank you Malcolm for such a complimentary article on our boy. We have some great memories of those SAPSASA carnivals with you and Tim coaching. Thank you for all your support. And unfortunately you’re right, he has no skill whatsoever in the kitchen!

  19. Luke the young man, not Luke the footballer will be something special. His skills are just a reflection of the person he is. Good luck with your future young man. I’m sure whatever you choose to do you will excel at

  20. Forever with supportive, encouraging words and illuminating prose Mal – no doubt all well deserved.

  21. Matt Zurbo says

    One of the best I have read on the Nackery, ever. Sounds like a dead set corker. Brilliant work, Rulebook. More of the same, mate.

  22. Good article Malcolm will follow his progress with interest.

  23. Cameron Glenn says

    Anther good article. This guy looks like he has a bright future.

  24. River boy says

    Good read Mal
    Luke would be a good fit at the Bombers.
    It would be nice to see him get picked up locally though.
    Panos should not be playing local footy either.

  25. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Brigitte Luke is a quality kid who has always listened to both positive and constructive criticism,processed and then improved from quality parenting has played a large part.JG v well put.Rook he’s a ripper.
    Matt greatly appreciated.Raj yes I will also and admit I will be biased.Cameron thank you and indeed he has.River boy I will watch on draft night with nervous anticipation yes could be another redleg at windy hill I admit I am not as convinced staying local helps the individual playing in the SANFl with top ups who are clearly not up to it is hindering youngsters development.Panos I shake my head in bewilderment
    thanks folks

  26. Some great words there. Sounds like he has a really bright future ahead of him at AFL level. Will be watching out for it.

  27. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Campbell a kid with a fantastic attitude thank you

  28. Nathan Watson says

    Another great read Malcolm. I enjoyed watching him on TV for SA a few weeks back. This article is a great insight into the kid off the field and clearly shows the quality of the lad. The SA MVP is a great honour to win in what was a star studded team. Such a great job from all involved, looking forward to following them all in the next stage of their career. I’m not sure what the record is but I can see about 12 being taken in this draft. Thanks for the good article mate. ?

  29. Hey rulebook, great write up. From the time I’ve spent with Luke I totally agree with everything you said. Luke all the best with year 12, leading the school and football

  30. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Nathan ironically I was with a sa official last week and 12 at least seems to be the general number.
    Ollie hope you are enjoying life in Melbourne go dimma dimma dimma dimarzo thank you




  32. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Joan sensational and so you should be !

  33. Gary Bennett AKA Fisho says

    Knowing nothing about Luke until reading your brilliant profile Malcolm, I am now truly excited for the kid’s progress. Naturally when he is drafted (surely soon) I hope it is with a SA side (preferably the Crows). If not this time around, I look forward to see him starring in a Redlegs’ jumper next winter.

  34. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Gary thank you I am now learning the freo song I suddenly have a hell of a lot more interest
    ( I am having fun they keep deleting my article off the Fremantle page )

  35. Just seen Luke Valente picked up by Fremantle at number 32. Pity he’s not with the Crows but must be excited at re-uniting with his mate Giro. Two more Norwood lads on their way to AF- next season’s side will be unrecognizable from this years’. We’ll just have to grin and bear it.

  36. Les Everett says

    Very happy Luke was still around at 32…

  37. Malcolm Ashwood says

    The draft re Luke was a emotional roller coaster from the disappointment of not being chosen on the 1st night
    ( Luke was 1 of 3 invited to the draft not picked ) mind you,Luke seemed to take it in his stride.
    I was nervous watching slightly disappointed he wasn’t picked by Adelaide and then relief and excitement when picked by Fremantle ( Fisho I immediately thought of Stefan ) Les I suddenly have a hell of a lot more interest in the WAFL and the dockers) speaking with Luke on the phone on Saturday I said Luke close your eyes your a young kid at sapsasa next week your training with Nat Fyfe he replied hey it’s unreal,Malcolm with the excitement palpably obvious in his voice and proceeded to thank me for the help etc he’s a ripper.

  38. Gary Bennett AKA Fisho says

    I can’t understand the Crows’ recruitment team. They had the chance to pick up young Luke but passed him up for inter-staters who often get homesick and want to leave the club. Just like with Pav I fear this will come back to bite them on the bum. That being said, I hope Luke fulfills his great potential at his new club. I’ll certainly be following his progress with great interest.

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