The next generation of footballers on the Gold Coast all have new idols to look up to following the 2023 Kool Beanz SUNS AFLW Junior Draft.
Hosted at Fankhauser Reserve, and coinciding with the Footy4Fun carnival, SUNS players were drafted as ambassadors to local Junior AFL Clubs & SUNS regions.
With junior representatives present from clubs across the Coast including Broadbeach, Burleigh, Carrara, Kingscliff, Ormeau and Pacific Pines, SUNS players were presented with guernseys from junior female players and presidents from each club.
The event also saw players take on umpiring, coaching and cheering roles for Under 9 and Under 11 Girls competitions at the carnival. Facilitated by AFL Queensland, Footy4Fun is the next step in the junior football pathway for boys and girls who have graduated from Auskick and Superstars Footy programs.
SUNS defender Lauren Ahrens, who grew up on the Coast and teaches the AFL Excellence Program at Miami State High School, says she has seen first-hand the rise of female football in Queensland.
“It’s crazy to think that when I was at school we weren’t able to play. Now the Coast is packed with girls teams,” Ahrens said.
“Not only are there more girls playing but there’s definitely a growth in the love and appreciation of the game from young girls.”
Drafted to her junior side Broadbeach Cats, SUNS Academy product and speedster Jasmyn Smith has a similar story.
“I started playing football at Broadbeach Cats when I was 13 years old. I had to play in the Under 17s team as there was no other age group for me to join, there was only the one team. It's amazing to now see the Under 9 and Under 11s Broadbeach teams out here tonight and see how far the club and female footy has come,” Smith said.
Smith joins fellow local produce drafted to their junior clubs including Lucy Single to Burleigh Bombers, Jordan Membrey to Carrara Saints and Giselle and Darcie Davies to Southport Sharks. Ashanti Bush will represent the Darwin region, while Wallis Randell and Daisy D’Arcy will represent Mackay and Townsville respectively.
During the year players will conduct a wide range of activities with their assigned club, including visits on August 1.
Ambassadors for the junior clubs and role models for their players, The Gold Coast SUNS are committed to connecting to our community and inspiring everyone to be part of our journey.
The SUNS will play its first home game at Heritage Bank Stadium against the West Coast Eagles in Round 2, a week after the season opener against Carlton at IKON Park on Saturday, September 2.
Kool Beanz SUNS AFLW Junior Draft
Pacific Pines Power
Palm Beach Currumbin Lions
Park Ridge Pirates
Surfers Paradise Demons
Tweed Coast Tigers
Tweed Coolangatta Blues