Four years ago the Mullewa colts were a struggling side that finished bottom of the ladder with no wins, but the same group of players stayed together and became champions this year. In 2020, Joshua Joseph took over as coach of the side and was part of a group that introduced a program to support the young team. Joseph would coach for two years before leaving the club, but returned this year to help with what became the Mullewa Rising Saints Program. “We’ve been probably building four years now with our colts, we sort of worked on training and presenting themselves and things like that,” Mullewa Football Club president Mick Wall said. “Probably four years ago, our colts were a young colts side, a lot of 15-16 year olds and we’ve kept them and they’ve just improved every year.” The Mullewa Rising Saints program was formed as a holistic approach to support young players, provide mentoring and help teach life skills. “I wanted to build a relationship with the boys and get around them and see what I can do as a coach,” Joseph said. “The support I give these boys is just being there for them, yarning with them and seeing what they want from what they need as a team. “Getting them clothes, looking like they’re a part of the team . . . teaching them skills, teaching them on and off the field about how to present themselves as well as them going about their football.” The program works closely with the Geraldton Sporting Aboriginal Corporation to create pathways for these players after colts, and aims to embed the club values of passion, pride and power into the players and help them develop a team culture. “Watching their development grow was amazing, seeing these boys as a young teen and watching them grow and develop as a player has been amazing,” Joseph said. “I’ve seen 40-odd players just develop into their own unique style on how they want to play, they’ve got their style on how they want to play.” While the Saints were winless four years ago, the same group of players went through the program together, and it has shown on the footy field. In 2021 the side went 3-10 and finished sixth, then Kayne Little took over in 2022 and the side made it to the big dance. “Kayne Little came in and he was amazing to come in with different structure and the way he came across to the boys,” Joseph said. While they managed to reach the grand final, the Saints suffered a brutal loss, which was a hard blow on the team. “It was hard, I thought we were going to win, then we got beat by 100 points . . . that’s when we knew we had to train and get better,” Colts player Jerome Little said. The same group came back around, this time under the coaching of Calvin Wall, with Joseph as an assistant, and they managed to win it all. “We came better this year, we won six times in a row … then the grand final we were losing, last quarter we just came back,” Little said. “Probably best thing that’s happened to me, winning the grand final.” After the long rebuild, Mick Wall said the colts bringing home the flag was massive for the club and hoped the success feeds up to the league side. “It was fantastic, we had the odds stacked against us, but to win it, it was pretty special,” he said. “We’ve struggled for the last few years, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel if we can hang on to them and stop the other clubs from pinching them off us.” Winning the grand final was something the entire community played a role in for the country club, Joseph said. “Twenty-two mostly all Indigenous boys jump on the field and work together to implement the goal of winning a game . . . it just uplifts the whole community,” he said.