The Gold Coast SUNS today confirmed the club would bring AFL Women’s to North Queensland should the SUNS successfully secure a competition licence.
Gold Coast SUNS CEO Mark Evans joined AFL Queensland CEO Dean Warren at AFL Cape York House to make the announcement.
“Women’s AFL and the junior girls programs across North Queensland are as strong as you will find across the country,” Evans said.
"Our bid for an AFL Women’s team included a desire to play one game per season in North Queensland, celebrating the strong women's football programs throughout the region."
“In 2016, the SUNS, with the support of AFL Queensland established a Female Talent Academy program tailored to North Queensland and that program is already delivering.
“Six athletes from North Queensland were selected to represent the state at this year’s Under 18 Championships with Lauren Bella (Mackay) & Kitara Farrar (Cairns) also being named in the All-Australian squad, highlighting North Queensland is punching well above its weight when it comes to junior development of future AFLW players.
The SUNS bid for a AFL Women’s team also included a commitment to selecting graduates from AFL Cape York House for girls to play for the SUNS.
AFL Cape York House for boys opened in 2013 and is a residential facility in Cairns for young Indigenous men from remote Indigenous communities across Cape York and the Torres Strait. The House provides them with a culturally appropriate and secure place to live whilst they attend local partner schools during the day.
Government funding secured earlier this year allowed for the development of AFL Cape York House for Girls which will open in 2019 that replicates the original concept for young women.
AFL Queensland CEO Dean Warren said he believed AFL Cape York House for Girls will be as successful as the boys program, achieving remarkable outcomes and boasts a 97 per cent retention rate. All students have graduated from year 12 with a Queensland Certificate of Education, with 50 per cent studying at university and the remainder employed full time.
“AFL Cape York House has shown that its program is effective for young Indigenous men and to extend this to young women is extremely important,” Mr Warren said.
“The AFL is proud of the role that we can play in connecting young people to education and future opportunities through sport, and AFL Cape York House is a very important part of our commitment to community building,” he said.
“The House is a tangible and outcomes focused commitment to the Federal and Queensland Governments’ Closing the Gap Strategy for Indigenous education and health.”