By Larissa Mouttou
AFL Chief Executive, Gillon McLachlan, visited Queensland today as the Lions and SUNS prepare themselves for the upcoming 2019 Toyota premiership season.
Mr McLachlan visited AFL Queensland in Yeronga where he acknowledged the contribution of three staff celebrating significant milestones in the AFL Industry.
State Manager- Junior Football Operations, Cherie Brockwell, reaches her thirty-year anniversary in April, Talent Co-Ordinator Jim Urquhart has contributed twenty-five years with the AFL and Coaching & Education Manager Jack Barry recently notched up twenty years of service (pictured)
During his visit the AFL Chief Executive opened the floor to staff to ask questions on the state of the game.
“Along with the Suns and Lions, AFL Queensland do the hard work of pushing our game in this very competitive sporting state,” he said.
“We know we are in a battle for hearts and minds here in the north.
“We won’t ever lose sight of this, and we will continue to invest so that new generations of Queenslanders fall in love with our game.”
Following the meeting Mr McLachlan attended the AFL Queensland Season Launch Lunch at the Gabba, where during his address he extended his sympathies to the friends and families of the victims of the shooting in Christchurch last Friday.
“We assure the Muslim community here is Australia that we at the AFL stand with you,” he said.
“In our code, and I know in every code and sport in our country, you are welcome and celebrated and an incredibly important part of our social fabric.
“It is times like this that sport as a unifier can play such a major role.”
Mr McLachlan went on to express his excitement for the year ahead for Queensland AFL fans.
“The new Lions football department of Chris Fagan and David Noble have filled the boys with belief and passion, and I love watching Luke Hodge play his role on the field,” he said.
“This year Luke is playing in his 18th season, consider this, there are three 18-year-old Lions this season. Luke has played elite level football at the AFL for the whole of their lives.”
He went on to share his anticipation of the SUNS year ahead, in particular the stability and strength coming together under the leadership of Stuart Dew.
“This is a sign of the capacity of Stuey Dew, his great strengths include relationships and long-term signings reflect this,” he said
“Stuey is a much-loved figure in our game and I can’t wait to see what he brings in his second year as Senior Coach.
“The Suns new marketing message, Challenge Accepted, truly matches the Club strategy.”
During his address the AFL Chief Executive praised the efforts of Queensland Clubs and the team at AFL Queensland in growing the game.
“More people are playing and participating in our game that ever before,” he said.
“Our community club network is growing and our Auskick participation is up.
“And in fact, since the Gold Coast Suns came into the competition, we have had a nearly 250% increase in Queensland participation, up to nearly 250,000 Queenslanders are part of our game.”
The role Queensland has played in the growth of the women’s game was noted.
“And while some may say this is a non-traditional AFL state, this is not quite the whole picture,” Mr McLachlan said.
“Because Queensland can claim a significant slice of history of the women’s game, in fact I think we can call Queensland a traditional AFLW state.
“Queensland was investing heavily in female participation for decades before the start of the AFLW, and the response from Queenslanders to the AFLW has been extraordinary.”
Mr McLachlan will continue his travel to NSW tomorrow to attend their season launch function in Sydney.