Chief executive to leave behind successful legacy

Ryan HadjiGeraldton Guardian

Outgoing Mid West Sports Academy chief executive Chris Darlington said the academy’s got a bright future.

Darlington finished in the top job last week and new chief executive Martin FitzSimons will start in a few weeks.

Darlington came to Geraldton in September, 2012, to start the academy, which opened early last year.

He said the time was right to return to his hometown of Jindabyne, NSW, 179km south of Canberra.

“I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve with the academy, which was to successfully get it set up, and it was a bonus to stay for an extra year or so and run the academy,” he said.

“It’s not easy to leave, I’m leaving an awesome community and a really good job.

“There have been lots of good people to work with, that part it’s hard. But it’s nice to go back home, that’s for sure.”

The academy employs two people and is comprised of 21 coaches and 15 athletes across more than a dozen sports.

Darlington originally came with his wife Brooke to stay a minimum 18 months to see how they found it.

They are expecting their first child in April.

He said it was vastly uncertain whether or not the academy could be set up.

“There was a question mark whether it was viable or not, or if we’d get the dollars,” Darlington said.

“So it was about coming across, finding out what was needed for the community and putting together a suitable business model, and creating a business case to government.”

Darlington acknowledged and thanked the current board and people such as Graham Greenaway, Gary Clark and Gerard Marquis, who were part of the “steering group” that got it off the ground.

“All those people were really supportive, they did a truckload of work before I even showed up. They came up with the idea and the vision, and with the vision to develop coaches and officials as well, not just athletes,” he said.

Darlington said developing coaches was very much what the academy was about, and praised the work of coaching effectiveness consultant Simon Barras.

Darlington said he’d like to see more athletes come from outside Geraldton, the greater Mid West area.

“At the moment the academy’s focusing on the quality of what they’re delivering,” he said.

“I think that demonstrates the value to our sponsors, and to our government supporters — state and local.”

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