Over the 2015 draft and trade period, the Gold Coast SUNS picked up a flurry of new faces.
With four selections from the 2015 National Draft, five from the Rookie Draft and three players as a result of a fruitful trade period, there are a number of family members now calling themselves SUNS supporters.
Each of these families were invited by the club to the Gold Coast in order to familiarise themselves with the place their beloved family member now calls home.
Player Development Manager, Michelle Mitchell, explained the weekend was an important part of welcoming the new players into the club, and letting their family know they are in safe hands.
“I think it’s really important because the majority of the players, except one, are relocating interstate,” she explained.
The weekend overall was a chance for mothers, fathers and siblings alike to gain an understanding of exactly what the SUNS stand for.
“They [the families] had an idea of where the club’s at but they really got an indication of our culture, our values. That’s really important for family members to know that because they then get an understanding of the environment their son is living in,” Mitchell said.
“One of the comments was that it was very similar values to their family, which was really nice. The other thing was they really got an understanding that our club is about community, regardless of what they read in the press.”
Mitchell, a mother herself, knows all too well the importance parents attribute to the influences a young adult is surrounded with.
“They want to know that they [the young players] are supported and getting the love that they require from the club,” she said.
“You just saw as the weekend progressed the confidence they had in us as a club and as an organisation.
“There wasn’t one family that I spoke to over the weekend that wasn’t pleased with our business. That was really positive.”
Senior coach Rodney Eade also spoke to the family members, sharing his coaching philosophy, expectations and insight into the day-to-day realities of an AFL career.
“He didn’t paint it warm and fluffy, he was also very honest with them and they were respectful for that. Rocket could have gone on and on, the parents were thrilled that he was there, they had his attention, they had his respect and that worked both ways,” Mitchell said.
“He was very respectful of the parents and very approachable- Rocket really gave the message that if those parents had any questions to give him a call.”
As a former gold-medallist, Mitchell is all-too-familiar with the thrill each of the players on debut in SUNS colours in Sunday’s NAB Challenge match would have been experiencing. During the game she was also able to witness first-hand the elation felt by the parents and siblings who had travelled interstate to watch the match against Queensland rivals the Brisbane Lions.
One such family was the MacPherson clan, who were able to share in son Darcy’s triumphant debut with 12 disposals, 8 contested possessions and 10 tackles.
“I was on the hill with that family and they got very excited, by the end of the game they were up the back and they were cheering,” she said.
“From looking at them on Friday night, meeting them at dinner, to the end of the weekend, you could just see all the years of hard work that they’ve done as a family supporting Darcy.
“It probably played out on the side of the field with them being very proud and it was a really beautiful moment.”