The Gold Coast SUNS have officially made a submission for an AFLW license, with a view to enter the competition in 2019.
The submission has been developed alongside AFL Queensland, who have partnered with the SUNS since their inception to develop both male and female talent throughout the state.
Gold Coast Chief Executive Mark Evans said the community was ready to get behind an AFLW team on the Gold Coast.
“The talented girls of Queensland deserve another AFL Women's team and the Gold Coast SUNS, the Gold Coast community and North Queensland are ready to get behind our girls,” he said.
“An AFLW license awarded to the SUNS will deepen our links within these communities and to give our girls the opportunity to truly represent their families, communities and their already strong talent pathways.
“Imagine what this can do to build upon the work of AFL Queensland and to help encourage young girls to become and remain active.
“We want to be the best club in the country at integrating our male and female academies and pathways, all the way up to our elite AFL teams."
Five members of the NAB Women's Under 18 Academy herald from the Gold Coast and the Gold Coast Academy already boasts 30 talented young ladies.
The Sunsets, the Gold Coast development team, were state champions in 2015 and 2016; without a profession team in the region such talent will be forced interstate in order to carve a career at the elite level.
North Queensland (the Gold Coast SUNS Academy region) will also play a big part in the eventual team, with a proposal to play one of the AFLW fixture games in either Cairns or Townsville.
The women’s team will have full access to the SUNS’ $22 million Elite Training and Administration base and dedicated change rooms at Metricon Stadium.
Olympic swimming stars Brooke Hanson and Samantha Riley, who sit on the Gold Coast Board, alongside gold-medallist Hockeyroo Michelle Mitchell, will also play a critical role in mentoring the young female athletes and proving welfare support.
In conjunction with the club’s established AFL team, their male and female talent academies, plus the Indigenous and Multicultural programs, elite representation for female talent is the final missing piece of the Gold Coast SUNS’ story.
The key pillars of the submission include;
Talent Ready: Queensland is the best placed state to divide talent, which the SUNS continue to develop alongside AFLQ.
Existing Facilities: Both training and match day facilities are ready to be utilised.
Embracing Integration: The club has a strong track record of embracing integration across existing football and community programs.
Embedded in Community: Community is a core value of the club and their programs throughout the Gold Coast and North Queensland enhance their opportunities for growth
Talent Academies: The club has established male and female talent Academies to help foster young talent and women’s pathways, aiding by three Olympic medallists.
Growing presence: An AFLW team allows the club to grow the presence of Australian Rules as a game for everyone on the Gold Coast and in Queensland.
New Market: A strategic partnership with North Queensland, the Suns Academy region, underlines the AFLW license.
Giving young women elite pathways in AFL. (Kalinda Howarth, left (Women's Academy) and Harry Simmington (Men's Academy) with Lucy Ashcroft, top).