SARAH Powell from Wharminda on Eyre Peninsula highlights the increasingly prominent role women are playing in farming communities.

Named the winner of the 2015 Rural Women’s Award for SA last night, she has voluntarily developed a program to help keep regions prosperous and vital.

Ms Powell’s plan involves developing a Champions Academy at the Ports Football and Netball Club, an amalgamated club from Port Neal and Arno Bay on eastern EP, that includes several grades of football and netball.

The academy concept will use the inherent strength in the district’s sporting club, the traditional heart and soul of rural communities, to build leadership and strengthen the region.

“Sporting clubs are the heart and soul of many rural communities and include people who are often very energetic and active,” Ms Powell said.

“The aim of the academy is to encourage people to develop as individuals, teammates and active people in the community.

“Through the awards process, I have received a lot of interest from other communities and we would like to extend it beyond the region in future.”

Ms Powell won from a line-up of entrants who all presented outstanding submissions to improve their regional communities.

She was presented with a $10,000 grant to help her pursue the Champion’s Academy by the Minister for Regional Development Geoff Brock at an awards ceremony at Adelaide Oval last night.

Ms Powell grew up at Dark Peak, an hour away on EP, before living and working in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and Cairns in Far North Queensland for more than a decade until returning home about three years ago.

She said neuroscience shows that the most effective way to achieve cultural change is by focusing on creating high performance teams.

The Ports Club will select 12 leaders made-up of six ambassadors (aged 15 to 25) with three from football and three from netball and six mentors (aged 25-40).

“When I lived in Cairns I realised I had a passion for helping young people to develop and when I came home I saw the opportunity to improve the strength and resilience of our future leaders through sporting clubs,” she said.

Ms Powell runs Shadow Box, a ghost writing, copywriting business with clients on the East Coast and on Eyre Peninsula, while supporting her partner Caleb Prime in his farming enterprise at Wharminda.

She will attend a one-week Australian Institute of Company Directors Course in Canberra with other state finalists and represent SA in the national awards in September.

The other finalists were: Alex Thomas from Port Lincoln, Simone Kain, from Penola and Louise Stock from Lucindale, both in the South-East.

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