For Gold Coast SUNS member Terry Vanes, the SUNS AFLW team is a symbol of empowerment, excitement and hope for him and his daughter Zahra.
“With the AFLW team, the most important thing for me is sitting there with my daughter at the games hoping that she realises that – as a woman – it doesn't mean you can't be a sports superstar,” Vanes told SUNS Media.
“It's an educational piece for me. There's a lot about gender inequality, wage inequality, etc as a woman, and I hope Zahra can see that just because you are a female, it doesn't mean that you're a lesser of a person.”
Nothing can hold back this father and daughter duo from making the effort to go to as many AFLW games as they can to catch the thrill of watching the SUNS AFLW team do what they do best on the field.
“We’ve been to all of them and it’s absolutely awesome,” said Vanes.
“My daughter is out there experiencing all these different things that a lot of people don’t get to experience. If it means I have to take a day or two off, we will do it.”
After all their time cheering in the stands for the AFLW team, two players caught Terry and Zahra’s eyes to take the spots as their favourite players.
“My favourite player would be Lauren Bella, since she is reliable week in and week out at the coal face in the ruck.
“But you know from my daughter's point of view it’s Tori Groves-Little – TGL."
Vanes’ journey as a SUNS’ member started back in 2009, when he signed up at a marquee at the Southport Sharks and never looked back.
“It’s about being a part of something from the ground up and being a part of that continual improvement. It’s having close reach to the players, both in the AFL and AFLW.
“It’s also about being able to spend some good quality time with my daughter. She is ten years old, and she loves football, along with the interaction and getting out to games at Metricon.
“We do travel around the country to catch some of the other games, down to Sydney or up to Mackay. It’s all about having that sense of belonging to the club.”
As a SUNS supporter, Vanes has gathered wonderful memories and unique experiences over the years, although one moment still holds a place in his heart.
“We’ve had so many (highlights) because the club has been nothing short of exceptional towards myself and especially my daughter.
“However, it would be when my daughter ran on the ground at the start of a game roughly four years ago and seeing the look on her face as she came through with Jarrod Witts and David Swallow.
“To see her around her idols and her heroes brought a tear to my eye sitting there in the crowd, to be honest.”
Terry and Zahra’s love and continued enthusiasm for the sport have left them feeling right at home among the SUNS community.
“People might say it's just a game, but for myself, coming from Melbourne, it's not just a game, it's pretty much a religion.
“Being able to throw support behind something that's grown from day one, and be there to see the trials and tribulations (is exciting).
“I actually feel like I'm part of the club as opposed to being a member and to be able to be there and connect with the club is equally just as important.”
Members like Terry and Zahra are at the heart of the SUNS triumphs, so there’s no doubt that you will be hearing their cheers from the stands when the SUNS return to Carrara in 2023.