- Wednesday 27 January 2016
The Western Bulldogs today became the seventh 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 GWS 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.
The Bulldogs will hold the final public event of a boom summer for local AFL fans by staging an open training session on Sunday, January 31 from 9.30am at Maroochydore Multi-Sports Complex.
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.
“The direct feedback I’ve been receiving from the football managers and operations managers from the six clubs who’ve been here over the past couple of months has been absolutely outstanding,” he said.
“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.
“The six clubs who took up the opportunity to hold pre-season camps on the Coast have been so impressed with everything from the grounds at Maroochydore Multi-Sport Facility to the hospitality they’ve received and the community support for their open training sessions.
“A number of clubs have also developed fantastic relationships with local surf lifesaving clubs and our surf beaches have been a huge hit also from a training point of view.
“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.
“From the sport’s perspective, we’ve enjoyed terrific local media coverage during the summer months and over the past year we’ve enjoyed a 39% growth in AFL participation levels across our region with most of that coming in the junior participation and social levels of the game.”
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 our region as the “best place on earth” during the club’s first visit here last week.
“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,” Rockliff said.
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.
“We’re absolutely rapt to be welcoming our seventh AFL club today in the Western Bulldogs, who like Hawthorn and Melbourne have returned this summer after successful visits here over recent years,” Cr O’Pray said.
“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.”