Community gets a kick from AFL camps
The Western Bulldogs was the seventh Australian Football League (AFL) club to arrive on the Sunshine Coast for a summer training camp as the region continues to reap the benefits from its role as a pre-season destination for elite clubs.
Premiers Hawthorn, Collingwood, Brisbane Lions, St Kilda, Melbourne and the Greater Western Sydney Giants have already made a “home away from home” on the Coast, using the first-class facilities at the Maroochydore Multi-Sports Complex and Kawana Sports Precinct.
AFL Sunshine Coast Regional Manager Paul Tresise said the advantages of having so many AFL clubs here over summer had been experienced from the top end of town to the grassroots of sport.
“It’s a massive tick for council for the work that they’ve done from July last year when they liaised with Melbourne clubs and invited them up here.
“These training camps have also been fantastic from our end – we’ve provided opportunities for around 30 local AFL youngsters to run water and help out clubs during their training sessions and this has also afforded these kids the chance to listen to the coaches during team talks and hopefully learn what it takes to make it to that level.
Victorian-based clubs weren’t the only ones falling head over heels for the Sunshine Coast during their summer sojourns. Brisbane Lions captain Tom Rockliff described the region as the ‘best place on earth’ during the club’s first visit.
“Obviously this camp wouldn’t go ahead if there wasn’t a few people to thank and we’d like to thank the Sunshine Coast Council for all their support as well as AFL Queensland and AFL Sunshine Coast for their support, it’s been outstanding, also during the clinics that we’ve run.”
Tourism, Sport and Major Events Portfolio Councillor Jason O’Pray said council would continue to build strong relationships with southern AFL clubs to encourage future visits.
“The six clubs who’ve already visited have attracted more than 3000 fans in total to their respective open training sessions, including many fans who’ve travelled from outside the Sunshine Coast to stay here and enjoy the chance to watch and interact with their favourite footy teams.
“Each of these clubs travel up here with around 75 players, coaches, trainers and officials and they’re all staying in our hotels, buying food from local shops, training in local gyms, playing golf and engaging with the local community so the economic, sporting and social benefits for our region are enormous.
“Council will continue to encourage clubs to venture here during the summer months and we’re hopeful of luring clubs back who’ve been here previously as well as attracting other southern-based clubs who’re yet to visit us.”