- Thursday 19 May 2016
Sunshine Coast’s dream to have our own national sporting team remains on track, with Netball Australia today confirming Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club is a preferred bidder in the expanded National Netball League (known as the ANZ Championship).
Netball Australia is continuing negotiations with its potential new licensees, including Melbourne Storm, regarding their involvement in the new competition.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said while the full-time whistle hadn’t yet been blown, the Melbourne Storm and University of the Sunshine Coast consortium was in a strong position to win the second half of the bidding process.
“The final announcement is keenly awaited by netballers and tourism and business organisation across the region,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The feedback since news broke that the Melbourne Storm was vying for a licence to base a netball team here has been incredible and that support shows we are ready to support the first professional sporting team for the region.
“Netball is one of the fastest growing sporting codes in the country and is the highest female participation sport on the Sunshine Coast.
“The sport has enjoyed substantial growth over the past three years, with more than 6600 members in local competitions.
“I congratulate Melbourne Storm and University of the Sunshine Coast – who are partnering as owners of the prospective team – on their work towards a successful bid to date.
“If successful, council will work with the local, state and national bodies to ensure pathways for our locals from grassroots to elite athletes, allowing these netballers to pursue a professional sporting career right here on the Coast.
“We cannot underestimate the promotional value of the Sunshine Coast brand which will be televised across the nation during 14 games each year – including seven home games here on the Sunshine Coast.
“Melbourne Storm have a strong relationship with Sunshine Coast Council and affiliations with the Sunshine Coast Falcons and this latest partnership will further that.
“The Melbourne Storm National Youth Competition team and Academy is proudly based at Sunshine Coast Stadium and provides a pathway to Storm’s NRL squad and elite coaching for 16-20 year olds.”
The Sunshine Coast-based netball team would be based at the University of the Sunshine Coast sports stadium – a national standard indoor facility – as part of the University’s High Performance Sports Strategy and ambition to be the preferred destination for elite athletes and teams.
Two-thirds of the university’s 12,500 enrolled students are female.
USC Vice-Chancellor Greg Hill said the university taught and researched in a flagship program area of sports science and wanted to develop this work to the next level.
“To do this the University needs to extend its connections with the industry and community at elite levels,” Mr Hill said.
“As part of achieving this, USC has developed a High Performance Sports Strategy and in collaboration with local government and other community partners intends to promote USC and the Sunshine Coast as a preferred destination for elite athletes and teams.
“We are a regional University that supports our community, and as netball is the most popular women’s sport on the Sunshine Coast, it is natural that we want to support its growth in the region.”
Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said: “We are excited by the opportunity to be part of the growth of netball - an elite women's sport in this country and internationally. This is another step forward in this process and we look forward to the final negotiation period given there is more work to be done.
“We have a genuine and authentic interest in helping strengthen the pathway for the 6600 plus players in the team's catchment area and give the region their first national sporting team."
Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC) Acting CEO Simon Latchford is thrilled the Sunshine Coast is on track to play host to a new national netball team.
“VSC is pleased to support the new Sunshine Coast national netball team,” Mr Latchford said.
“A successful bid would cement and showcase the Sunshine Coast as a major sporting events destination.
“Beyond the enormous economic benefits and increasing visitation from supporters and other teams in the competition, this potential new franchise would result in priceless national media exposure.
“I congratulate Melbourne Storm and Sunshine Coast University on their vision and work towards securing this new team over other Australian destinations.
“Netball is a perfect match for our brand of naturally refreshing and positioning the Sunshine Coast as a safe and healthy environment for a holiday.”
Sunshine Coast Combined Chambers Alliance Chair Michael Shadforth said the Sunshine Coast consistently produced world-class athletes, a large percentage of them women.
“I love the fact that our first national sporting franchise looks to be a female netball team. It shows we are ahead of the game,” Mr Shadforth said.
“The Sunshine Coast will be promoted to new audiences and I’m looking forward to measuring our success on the court. Bring it on.”