The Gold Coast SUNS has extended its relationship with foundation AFLW partner Mackay Regional Council for an additional four years.
The deal will see the SUNS continue to bring AFLW matches to Great Barrier Reef Arena for the next four NAB AFLW Premiership Seasons.
Since the partnership began in 2019, the Mackay region has hosted three elite women’s matches and countless youth development opportunities such as AFLW talent identification, investment in Mackay’s SUNS Academy for both male and female pathways, coaching sessions and school appearances.
Gold Coast SUNS Chief Executive Mark Evans said the club was thrilled to continue to bring an AFLW match to Mackay for the next four years and was excited for the upcoming fixture at Great Barrier Reef Arena on Saturday September 17.
“We’ve been really pleased with our ability to drive awareness, tourism and business outcomes for Mackay through our partnership,” Evans said.
“The SUNS have made Mackay our second home for our AFLW team and we’ve had great support from the region every time we visit.
“We’re committed to bringing marquee AFLW matches to Great Barrier Reef Arena and continuing to grow women’s football in the region, which has seen a 50% participation increase since 2018.”
The partnership also allows council to take advantage of rare promotional opportunities such as advertising the region and the Mackay Waterfront project on the Gold Coast SUNS’ website, at home matches, and on the AFLW uniform.
Mayor Greg Williamson said council was excited to continue this relationship for another four years.
“As part of the new agreement, we will continue to host an annual AFLW match at Harrup Park’s Great Barrier Reef Arena,” he said.
“These events are invaluable in terms of improving the liveability and livelihood of our region and the games always attract a great crowd of local supporters.”
Investment attraction has been another important objective of the partnership, which has led to the announcement of Kool Beanz SUNS Harrup Park, a new early learning childcare facility that will be located near Harrup Park.
In addition to annual matches, the SUNS have committed to hosting a number of AFLW community camps, athlete and coach scholarship programs and junior pathways programs.
“We have had several local success stories come from these programs,” Mayor Williamson said.
“Lauren Bella, Emma Pittman, Wallis Randell and Alana Gee all started their careers in the sport in Mackay and have gone on to play for the Gold Coast SUNS AFLW team.
“We are confident that the continuation of this partnership will only help to inspire more young people to pursue their dreams of a career in AFL.”