GC SUNS Chairman Bob East says the entire club is unified in what is required to bring success to the Gold Coast and its loyal fanbase.
The countdown to the SUNS’ opening clash of its 2024 campaign, hosting Richmond at Heritage Bank Stadium, has crept under 30 days with anticipation and demand to be in stands on March 9 reaching fever pitch.
Speaking on SEN on Wednesday morning, East says the club has narrowed its focus to the things that matter most to the club and bringing on-field success.
“It’s a footy first approach at the Gold Coast SUNS. We’re here to be finalists, we’re here to win premierships in the AFL and AFLW,” East said.
“It’s fair to say that it’s time for the Gold Coast SUNS to articulate the ambition of the club and to highlight that through all levels of the club so there’s no doubt as to why we’re in the competition and what we’re about.
“For this club on its journey, as it reaches maturation, we need to skinny down our focus, raise our hopes and aspirations and just focus on those things that matter most to a football club.
“You really need to draw a line in the sand and start structuring a business so it’s dedicated to that task.”
That Opening Round clash will be the club’s first under new Senior Coach Damien Hardwick.
East has praised the ‘intangible’ influences Hardwick, who boasts more than 300 games of senior coaching experience, has brought to the club since taking the reins late in 2023.
“Since I was appointed and with the board I brought on, we were crystal clear that we needed to do a solid evaluation on where we were, not just in football but in all aspects of our endeavour,” East continued.
“We were dedicated to an analysis of where are we now? What are the gaps? What are the resources we need to deploy to fill those gaps? How do we go about building success in this club?
“We believe we had the core ingredients in some part. On the surface it felt like we had the core ingredients… Damien has brought a lot of process and structure that has made it all very clear.
“It’s a collaboration between executive and the football department on what is realistic and how do we go about achieving that.
“What I look for is his process and structure. He (Hardwick) has turned up with a very clear plan on what we need to, everything down to the workflow and organisation of the offices.
“What I look for is the intangibles, the passion, competition, enthusiasm, and daily grind that builds a culture.
“We’re all walking a bit taller and now we have to live up to those expectations and bring our fans and supporters some success.”
East also reaffirmed the importance of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy in not only developing up-and-coming talent on the Gold Coast, but building the presence of the game in a competitive market.
“The Academy has achieved what it set out to do. We now have a development pathway for young talent in that market,” East continued.
“If you look at what it’s achieving at the grassroots, I’ve got school aged kids and I can assure you now that these kids coming through the system are seen as local heroes.
“It’s providing not only talent but awareness around our club… we are in a competitive market and it’s a really important feature of it.
“It’s a very, very important task we undertake in development local talent. If we can get more kids coming through from the local suburbs, it’s an exceptionally good thing, not just for our club but for the AFL.”
Tickets are selling fast for the March 9 clash against the Tigers with Heritage Bank Stadium set to be brimming with red and gold in the stands.
“I can state now that we’re expecting a sellout crowd. We’ve already got certain assets that are full for that day that we’ve not experienced that before.”