Gold Coast SUNS Academy product Abbey Rankin has been awarded the 2022 Troy Clarke Scholarship, named after the late Brisbane Bears player and AFL Queensland Development Manager, Troy Clarke.

The scholarship, presented by AFL Queensland on Thursday, is designed to support a young person from regional Queensland who displays the core values Troy, a South Cairns junior, embodied during his football journey including dedication, passion and respect. The scholarship will specifically look to focus and improve Abbey’s football, education and personal development.

The presentation of the scholarship was conducted at Bond University on Thursday, ahead of the Under 16 Girls Championships where Rankin, a Moranbah local, is representing the Gold Coast SUNS Academy Team.

Troy’s wife Natalie presented the scholarship to Abbey, with AFL Queensland’s Talent Manager Mark Browning, Gold Coast SUNS Academy Manager Kathleen Newman, former AFL player and Troy Clarke Scholarship Ambassador Kurt Tippett, Troy’s friend and former teammate Corey Bell and the 2019 recipient, SUNS AFLW player Alana Gee, all in attendance.

AFL Queensland selected Abbey for this prestigious scholarship due to her genuine commitment to pursuing her football ambitions. Growing up in Moranbah, a mining town located a few hours west of Mackay, she started playing Aussie Rules for the Moranbah Bulldogs only four years ago. She would go on to be selected in the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. During this time she has travelled to pursue playing football at the highest level available.

Abbey and her family have now moved to Mackay where she plays for the Mackay City Hawks.

Head of AFL Queensland Trisha Squires congratulated Abbey on receiving this scholarship.

“Abbey is a worthy recipient of our Troy Clarke Scholarship. Her dedication to chasing her football pursuits through travel to training and seeking additional opportunities to improve her game, is demonstrative of her passion,” she said.

“We look forward to watching Abbey’s development as a footballer and person.”

The 16-year-old said she was honoured to receive this scholarship.

“It’s such an honour to receive this scholarship, it has encouraged and inspired me to push even harder towards my goals,” Abbey said.

“I know from personal experience that regional kids feel like they are always overlooked and forgotten about.

“This scholarship has done the opposite and inspired me to train and play harder. 

“My ultimate dream is to play in the AFLW and be a role model for other regional kids.” 

About the Troy Clarke Scholarship 
In October 2013 Queensland’s AFL community lost one of its greats, with the tragic passing of then State Development Manager, Troy Clarke, aged 44.
An AFL Queensland Hall of Fame member, Clarke, played 68 games for the Brisbane Bears between 1991 and 1996 and was the only North Queenslander on the Queensland Team of the Century shortlist.
Clarke showed courage and commitment as a player, but it was his impact on footy after his retirement that will be his true legacy to the game.
To commemorate Clarke, AFL Queensland and the Clarke family launched The Troy Clarke Scholarship in 2014.
Troy consistently displayed wonderful values such as dedication, passion and respect and the scholarship aims to honour him by supporting a young person from regional Queensland who displays these same values.
Troy Clarke Scholarship Recipients

2022 – Abbey Rankin, Moranbah
2020-21 – No award was presented due to Covid restrictions
2019 – Alana Gee, Mackay
2018 – Austin Harris, Cairns
2017 – Zimmorlei Farquarson, Darling Downs
2016 – Bruce Reville, Wide Bay
2015 – Dirk Koenen, Magnetic Island
2014 – Tom Matthews, Dalby