AFL high flyers spread wings for Sunshine Coast pilgrimage
  • Friday 09 December 2016

What do the last four AFL premiership winning teams have in common? They all ventured north during the pre-season for training camps on the Sunshine Coast!

So it’s no surprise to see clubs once again queuing up to visit our region the 2016/17 summer. Hawthorn will be first to arrive for a nine-day camp from Monday, December 12.

They’ll hold a community session on Saturday December 17 and Hawks’ General Manager of Football Jason Burt said the 2013-15 premiers were keen to continue what’s been a winning formula.

“The Sunshine Coast has been the perfect location for our pre-season camp over past few years and we are excited to head back their again next week,” he said.

“Maroochydore provides excellent facilities, ideal weather conditions and fantastic environment for our players to build a solid fitness base to build from when they return to training in the new year.

“The camp has become a regular staple in our pre-season schedule and we always look forward to returning to the Sunshine Coast and mixing with our Queensland fans and the local community.”

Richmond will be hoping the Sunshine Coast can be the lucky charm to break its 36-year premiership drought. The Tigers are set for their first trek to our region for a seven day training camp from January 22, including a community session at the Maroochydore Multi-Sport Complex on Australia Day.

“Richmond has held pre-season camps in other areas of North Queensland, but never on the Sunshine Coast,” Richmond Football General Manager Neil Balme said.

“We’re looking forward to bringing the entire team and coaches up for a week of hard work in the Sunshine Coast heat.”

The Sunshine Coast has certainly agreed with the Western Bulldogs, whose previous two summer visits here have resulted in a top four finish in 2015 and this year’s fairy-tale premiership.

The Bulldogs will return for their third visit at a date to be confirmed in January 2017, while the Melbourne Demons are also confirming dates for their return in January.

Tourism, Sport and Major Events Portfolio Councillor Jason O’Pray said council had worked hard to build strong relationships with a number of AFL clubs in recent years.

“The Sunshine Coast played host to half a dozen clubs last summer and it’s terrific to see the likes of Hawthorn and premiers the Western Bulldogs coming back and also Richmond coming here for the first time,” Cr O’Pray said.

“To be the preferred pre-season destination for these elite sporting clubs clearly shows we’re doing a lot right and we’ll be ready and raring to welcome them again, starting with the mighty Hawks next week!

“The economic and social benefits these pre-season camps bring to our community are enormous when you consider that each club travels up here with around 75 players, coaches, trainers and officials and we also see quite a few fans of these clubs from outside our region coming here for holidays to coincide with their team being here.

“Travelling to and from here is also more convenient than ever with flight frequencies increasing by 10% between the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne over the past 12 months. Both Jetstar and Virgin Australia have added flights over the past year to meet growing demand.

“Qantas has also recognised the premium leisure traveller market and are commencing flights to Melbourne over the summer period starting from December 16.”