FOOTBALL

Luke born to lead the way

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Rostrevor student Luke Valente is captaining South Australia's under-18s at this year's national championships which started at the weekend. PICTURE: AAP/ROY VANDERVEGT

LUKE Valente bleeds red and black, but it is leadership – not just the colours of Rostrevor College – which flow through the young footballer’s veins.

Valente will captain this year’s SA under-18 side in the national championships, which kicked off on Sunday.

But the 18-year-old says he is not feeling the weight of expectation that comes with skippering his state.

“I was pretty proud,” Valente says. “It’s an honour to just play in the state team, let alone captain it.

“I’m not really feeling the pressure too much, though. I enjoy taking on these roles.

“I’m pretty vocal on the field and at training.

“That’s something I pride myself on.”

Valente is no stranger to taking on the role of skipper.

He captains Rostrevor’s First XVIII and is the college’s head prefect – something that runs in the family.

His grandfather, Norman Vowles, who still holds sporting records set at the college more than 60 years ago, was a prefect too.

Valente and SA got off to a dream start in the championships on Sunday against Western Australia.

The Croweaters dominated in the 19.10 (124) to 5.5 (35) victory and Valente led from the front with 26 disposals and a goal.

Rostrevor First XVIII coach Ron Fuller says Valente is a natural leader with enormous respect among his college teammates.

“He oozes leadership and really is just a great young kid,” Fuller says.

“Even with his state, AIS and Norwood commitments, he’s still out whenever he can to support the rest of the boys.”

The strong inside midfielder has split time this season between playing for Norwood under-18s, the Redlegs’ reserves, Rostrevor, the AFL Academy and state duties.

Valente says he is not fazed by moving between teams week-to-week but admits the reality of his draft year dawned on him at the beginning of the season.

“It’s a bit of a challenge but I try to just take it on and make the most of it by playing consistent footy no matter where I am,” the Walkerville junior says. “It hit me once the season start that this is the year, so I focus on not letting my performance drop in any side.”