Moving up to the Gold Coast from country Victoria was always going to be different for Sam Flanders, but three months later the SUNS draftee couldn’t be happier in his new home.
Flanders, who has moved in with Ben Ainsworth, had his family come visit last weekend for a first-year family induction hosted by the SUNS Personal Excellence team.
Speaking to SUNS Media, the no. 11 pick in the 2019 draft said it was a special feeling to have his mum and dad come up to see first-hand how he was fitting in at his new club.
“To move away was pretty tough especially early,” Flanders said.
“For me I loved it (having mum and dad on the Coast).
“Even just the little things like showing them around and showing them my locker, that was a pretty special moment.
“You dream of stuff like that as a kid to get your name on an AFL locker so to be able to show them that and get some photos in front of it was amazing and they loved it.”
The weekend consisted of a dinner with all the fellow first-year families followed by a day of watching the football at Metricon Stadium.
On Sunday, the families were invited back to the club for a breakfast and official tour of the Austworld Centre.
The players then had the opportunity to sit down with their families and read a heartfelt letter they had handwritten about what they were grateful for.
“Coming from a small country town, the amount of late nights that mum would take me to basketball or footy trainings was huge,” Flanders said.
“For them to give me the upbringing I had, I’m really grateful for that and hopefully one day I’ll be able to repay them.”
“I think now that they’ve been up here they’ve seen what it’s all about and I think they realise what it’s like.
“When I got back up here after Christmas I realised that this is my home now so I think that’s sunk in for them now as well.
“They’re very supportive and they love it, it’s a nice little holiday destination for them as well.”
Flanders’ mum Jodie said the entire weekend had opened her eyes to what the Gold Coast Football Club was really about.
“We found it really good and pretty informative,” Jodie told SUNS Media.
“It’s very inclusive and it seems like the club is heading in the right direction.
“You hear completely different things down here but seeing the club first-hand, we’ve actually come home really reassured that Sam’s in a good spot and is being looked after.
“It was really impressive.”
Jodie said she felt comfortable that her son was receiving all the support he needed to have an extended career in the AFL on the Gold Coast.
“Everyone that walked past us all stopped to speak to him,” Jodie said.
“We didn’t know how he was feeling and settling in but it seems like everyone is really supportive and he seems really happy.
“We looked through all the facilities and they’re pretty awesome.
“We sat down with Stuart Dew and Jon Haines and they ran us through what their plans were for Sam and that was actually really interesting to see that.
“We came home really happy knowing he’s in a good place.”
Flanders is one of 10 first-year players on the SUNS list for 2020.