The Gold Coast SUNS have set a club record in the community this year, ending the season with a total of 6,290 hours supporting the Gold Coast, North Queensland and Northern Rivers communities.
Spearheading the club’s efforts was the annual Homeless Connect event held at Metricon Stadium, where over 1,500 people affected by homelessness were given access to food, support and facilities.
Long-time supporters of this social issue are SUNS players Touk Miller and Peter Wright who themselves hosted over 100 youth impacted by homelessness in fortnightly dinners held at the Austworld Centre.
With the support of No.1 ticket holder Bruce Coulson and NAB Private Banking, the pair will continue to donate their time to this cause again in 2020.
Gold Coast SUNS CEO Mark Evans said the amount of time spent engaging with the community was a testament to the club’s commitment to make a difference.
“At the SUNS we want to deeply connect with our community and inspire people to be a part of our extraordinary journey,” Evans said.
“We’re only nine years young as a club in the AFL but we believe we have a responsibility to the community to build a foundation for future generations.
“This year’s result is a fantastic achievement for our club and we look forward to doing even more in 2020.”
The club generated a 23% increase in support of community events and activities with a total of 582 different activities and events supported throughout the year.
The SUNS remain committed to keeping Queensland school children active, with 4,770 students across 71 schools engaged in our Everyone Matters Program in 2019.
Participation numbers have grown also, with 35,895 involved in the game through community programs in Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Northern Rivers and Gold Coast.
Metricon Stadium played host to a number of local junior football games throughout the season which resulted in 1,150 junior footballers competing for points at the SUNS home ground, including the AFL Gold Coast Juniors Grand Final weekend held at the stadium.
Another focus area for the club are Indigenous and Multicultural community programs in the region.
The SUNS were involved in nine NAIDOC week events attended by over 900 Gold Coasters, with over 1,800 community members engaged in Multicultural Celebration Round also.
Community Award winner Jarrod Harbrow is a leader in this space with his work mentoring Indigenous youth off the field.
The support of junior football and the development of coaches within the community has grown again in 2019.
Gold Coast SUNS men’s and women’s players visited local junior clubs on across the Gold Coast, Northern Rivers, and North Queensland numerous times throughout the year.
The SUNS also launched a local coach development program where all junior coaches across the 12 junior football clubs on the Gold Coast have been mentored and developed by SUNS coaching staff.
In Townsville, 40 local community coaches went through the Tackle Your Feelings course which provides coaches with education on identifying and working with mental health issues.
In the women’s space, the club had over 100 participants for its annual Girls Only Clinic at Metricon Stadium.
This year’s record of 6,290 hours is a significant increase on last year’s total of 5,863 and will be a new benchmark for the club moving forward.