By Mark Perriman
The Gold Coast SUNS will visit North Queensland and the Northern Rivers from February 25 as part of their 2015 Australia Post AFL Community Camp.
The players and staff will spend two days in and around Mackay, with a portion of the players dropping by the Northern Rivers, before heading North to Townville to take on Geelong in their NAB Challenge opener on March 1st.
Gold Coast SUNS General Manager of Stadium, Consumer & Community Kelly Ryan talked-up the excitement surrounding the team’s visit to Mackay, saying she felt the town’s interest in footy would ensure the camp’s success.
“There is a local thirst for AFL football in Mackay, and as a club, we want to ensure we make the most of our visit,” said Ryan.
“It promises to be another exciting camp, and we know the players are looking forward to making an impact in the city’s local community.”
The camp is part of the club’s ongoing effort in Northern Queensland, and coincides with their blockbuster match against the Cats, their third consecutive preseason opener at their Northern fortress.
Outside of the game, the trip allows the club to engage with the public through various community initiative programs.
During their two-day visit to Mackay, the SUNS will be making appearances at Fitzgerald and Sarina State Schools, together with a host of clinics and training sessions open to the public.
During that that time, a contingent of players will also embark on a trip to the Northern Rivers region.
The club will be holding Auskick sessions at a variety of schools in the area, conduct an Indigenous Health program with the Solid Mob community awareness and support group, and put local players through their paces with a Future Stars and Rookie combine.
The SUNS will follow up Sunday’s game with a two-day camp in Townsville which will feature school visits and a community dinner.
With the North Queensland area falling within the bounds of their recruitment zone, the club’s association has borne a plentiful supply to footballing talent over the years.
Since inception, the wider-region has produced a number of talent academy graduates, including Jarrod Harbrow (Cairns), Charlie Dixon (Cairns) and Zac Smith (Rockhampton).
Touching on why the club has continued to return, Ryan confirmed the region’s importance to the club.
“We are delighted to be returning for what will be our third consecutive pre-season tour of Far North Queensland, an area which has become a key region for the Gold Coast SUNS,” she said.