The next wave of Gold Coast SUNS Academy players will get their chance to play on the national stage over the next month, with the SUNS squad for the NAB AFL National Development Championships being announced.
Members of the SUNS Academy Under 16s program, who have been selected through an intensive training and match program, will play in the championships throughout June and July, with games against the Brisbane Lions and GWS Giants Academies, and concluding with a trip to Darwin to take on the NT Thunder.
The squad brings together a mix of talent across the SUNS Queensland Academy Zones, with eight players originating from North Queensland joining 18 Gold Coast and four Northern Rivers-based players as a part of the 30-player squad.
The restructured championships marks the first time the Gold Coast SUNS have fielded a standalone side, and provides great opportunities for players within the clubs zone to be exposed to high level football experiences.
“We see the NAB AFL National Development Championships as a critical piece of the continued on and off-field development and education for our Academy players,” SUNS Academy Futures Head Coach John Deitz said.
“It allows us to see players from our zone exposed to high-level games and the best talent from other zones, as well as providing great development and learning opportunities for our players and coaches.“We want to see players from our zone given the opportunity to play against more elite talent so we are able to educate and evaluate them across a series of quality games."
“Our squad comprises of players from the Northern Rivers, the Gold Coast and North Queensland, so it is a great reflection on the hard work being done by all community clubs who play a key role in the development of talented players.”
The NAB AFL National Development Championships will also allow players the opportunity to put into practice learnings on fundamentals and game style, as they progress through to the high performance stages of the SUNS Academy.
Throughout the duration of the program, the SUNS Academy players have trained out of the facilities at Metricon Stadium and the Austworld Centre, which has created a high-performance environment.
“It’s been great to have the opportunity to train using an elite facility which allows us great scope to develop players’ skill sets and physical preparation,” Deitz said.
“To get the opportunity to play on Metricon Stadium in the Championships is an amazing opportunity and one all the boys are excited by.”
The squad takes on the Brisbane Lions Academy in a practice match at Coorparoo on Sunday 19th June at 12:00pm.
Their first game of the Championships takes place on Wednesday 29th June, also against the Lions Academy on Austworld Centre Oval at 1:00pm.
We encourage all SUNS fans to get behind the boys as they take their first steps on the national stage.
National Development Championship Match Details:
Sunday 19 June, 12pm: Gold Coast SUNS Academy v Brisbane Lions Academy, Coorparoo Football Club
Wednesday 29 June, 1pm: Gold Coast SUNS Academy v Brisbane Lions Academy, Austworld Centre Oval
Monday 4 July, 9:45am: Gold Coast SUNS Academy v GWS Giants Academy, Metricon Stadium
Saturday 9 July, 12pm: Gold Coast SUNS Academy v NT Thunder, TIO Stadium