Get set Queensland. The Gold Coast SUNS have successfully obtained an AFLW licence for the 2020 season.
The GC SUNS successful bid for a women’s licence was announced following a meeting of the AFL Commission.
GC SUNS Chief Executive Mark Evans said the establishment of an AFLW team will inspire true equality for females throughout the Gold Coast, North Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
“We are incredibly proud to have the opportunity to establish a team for our girls. We may be non-traditional AFL markets, but the Gold Coast, North Queensland and Northern New South Wales are booming female participation markets and the girls deserved a team,” Evans said.
“This is a significant day for our club and the game here in Queensland. As a club we are here to grow our game. It’s a role we take seriously and is supported by real growth. Working hand in hand with AFL Queensland, participation in our raw AFL market has grown by over 200% in the past seven years, including a staggering 280% increase in female participation.
“These numbers demonstrate that at a community level our game is for women as much as men, while at the elite level, Queensland is talent ready for a second AFLW team. Over the next three drafts it’s anticipated that 14 Gold Coast Academy players will be drafted and that’s only going to grow.”
Evans said discussions had begun with AFL Queensland around the best way to strengthen women’s football on the Gold Coast and prepare the SUNS for entry into the AFLW.
“Discussions are underway to establish a presence in the state league competition in 2018. What that looks like is still to be finalised, but it needs to be an outcome that assists AFLQ, the local clubs and allows the Gold Coast and its players to get set for 2020.”
Evans reiterated the GC SUNS approach to the submission highlighted the clubs commitment to growing the game and demonstrated it would establish an AFLW team side by side with AFL Queensland.
AFL Queensland CEO Dean Warren said he was delighted with the AFL Commission decision.
“The growth of female football has been exponential in recent years, with the number of women and girls engaged in AFL Queensland programs and competitions reaching 98,000 in 2017, which is forty percent of total participation,” said Warren.
“Particularly pleasing is the growth at community club level with 5,297 women and girls pulling on the boots for their local club this year.
Warren said the continued growth will provide the depth of talent required for the Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Lions to not only sustain AFLW licenses, but to be extremely competitive.
“The AFL Queensland talent and AFL club academy programs have also gone from strength-to-strength in providing elite, high-performance programs for our talented young females,” he said.
“The establishment of a Gold Coast based team will also provide our Queensland talent aspiring to play at AFLW level further opportunity to stay and play in Queensland.
“Our Queensland football community should feel extremely proud today; through the combined efforts of club volunteers, teachers and AFL Queensland staff we will see both Queensland clubs represented in the AFLW in 2020.”