Saints ascend to pre-season heaven
  • Wednesday 02 December 2015

From "four seasons in one day" to "beautiful one day, perfect the next". That’s what AFL club St Kilda is experiencing after flying north from Melbourne for a six day pre-season training camp on the Sunshine Coast.

St Kilda is one of six AFL clubs that will visit our region over the summer months, with Collingwood, Hawthorn, Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions also set to conduct pre-season camps on the Sunshine Coast between now and early February, 2016. 

Saints’ director of coaching and strategy Danny Sexton said the Sunshine Coast was an ideal  location for AFL clubs to visit during the pre-season.

“We like it. We’re rapt to be here and we’re really looking forward to seeing how it works for us,” Mr Sexton said.

“The last couple of years we’ve gone overseas with two years in the United States and a year in New Zealand. They were great experiences but what we found was that you lose too much training time on the way there and on the way home. We landed here yesterday and came straight out  to this fantastic facility at the Maroochydore Multi-Sport Complex.

“We had a run around and didn’t lose any training time at all. It’s only two hours away from home and it is a great facility up here.

"You get the heat, the great facilities and the humidity and we thought it was going to work for us. We’re really happy to be here.”

The Saints will hold an open training session at Maroochydore Multi-Sport facility on Friday, December 4 from 9am to noon, allowing supporters and community to mix with players, take photographs and get autographs.

Tourism, Sport and Major Events Portfolio Councillor Jason O’Pray said strong relationships between council and southern AFL clubs had convinced more than ever to head north over the coming months.

“During the last pre-season period we had three AFL clubs head up here and this time around we’re going to host six, including the ultra-successful Hawks and one of biggest sporting brands in Australia in Collingwood,” he said.

“We’re so excited to be hosting St Kilda this week and we can’t wait to welcome Melbourne, The Bulldogs and Lions as well as premiers Hawthorn and of course the Collingwood Magpies.

“Only a few years ago there was a preference for many of these elite AFL clubs to head overseas for their pre-season camps so the fact that one-third of the AFL competition is now choosing the Sunshine Coast is testament to our facilities, our environment and the overall experience our region can offer.

“These clubs travel up here with around 75 players, coaches, trainers and officials and they’re all staying in local hotels, buying food from local shops, training in local gyms and engaging with the local community so the economic, sporting and social benefits for our region are enormous.”

“This obviously had an impact on local participation in AFL with the Sunshine Coast AFL juniors last year recording a significant spike in junior registrations following the camps held here by the AFL teams.”

2015 Premiers Hawthorn will be the next club to arrive on the Sunshine Coast. They’re expected to hold an open training session December 12. Further details and times will be available closer to this date.