By Thomas Beverly, Gold Coast SUNS
The Gold Coast SUNS are pleased to announce a new destination partnership for our Women’s AFL Football program with the Mackay Regional Council.
The four-year partnership will see the SUNS Women’s team play a game at Harrup Park, Mackay, in each year, along with Mackay Waterfront branding prominently positioned on both Women’s Winter Series and AFLW apparel.
Both parties will also work closely across a number of joint initiatives to encourage people to visit the region and foster the growth of AFL throughout the Mackay community.
In announcing the partnership GC SUNS CEO Mark Evans emphasised the importance of growing the game in North Queensland and providing a pathway to inspire junior AFL players from the region.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome such a dynamic, vibrant region to the SUNS family, through our marketing and football departments, we will become a year-round promotional vehicle for the destination,” said Evans.
“The Gold Coast SUNS are committed to continuing to grow the game of AFL throughout North Queensland.
“The Mackay region is a significant part of our Talent Academy and we value that we’re able to provide a pathway for young and aspiring junior footballers to play the game at the elite level.
“We hope that showcasing elite women’s football for at least the next four years, will inspire junior athletes from Mackay to join and continue to play our great game.”
With the club set to continue to explore opportunities to bring content to North Queensland, Evans was excited by the prospect of having both men’s and women’s teams playing in the region over the coming years.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for our women’s team to play at Harrup Park, an elite sporting facility that will play host to a series of national sporting codes over the coming years,” Evans said.
“We’re scheduled to play an AFL game in Townsville in either 2019 & 2020 and we are continuing to explore opportunities to increase content in North Queensland.”
Mackay Regional Council Mayor, Cr Greg Williamson said the AFL brand reaches millions of people every year.
“Sport inspires people and we see this partnership as a way to heighten awareness of our region to inspire people to visit, invest or relocate to our region,” he said.
Cr Williamson said the deal would look to leverage off the GC SUNS brand to help tell the story of the Mackay region, its lifestyle and increase sport tourism opportunities for the region.
“We will collaborate with the club to ensure there are direct community benefits via games, player appearances and create awareness of community related issues,” Cr Williamson said.
“This is an innovative destination marketing campaign that will play to a massive audience with enormous opportunities.”
With female participation continuing to grow throughout QLD, Evans was excited by the prospect of the partnership with Mackay and its ability to help produce elite talent for the Gold Coast SUNS AFLW team in the future.
“Female participation in QLD is thriving with close to 110,000 females playing at local clubs and in programs throughout the state and we’re excited to enter the AFLW competition in 2020 at a time when the code is at such a strong level,” Evans said.
“Hopefully we can look forward to having some home-grown Mackay talent pulling the SUNS guernsey on when we play our inaugural AFLW season in 2020.”