BRIGHT FUTURE: (left to right) Jada Hart, Zane Chappell, Jaid Hart, Trey Drummett, Locki Hope, Kaila Kirkwood, Harri Oldaker and Emily Kirkwood are looking forward to playing for the rebranded Gladstone Suns
BRIGHT FUTURE: (left to right) Jada Hart, Zane Chappell, Jaid Hart, Trey Drummett, Locki Hope, Kaila Kirkwood, Harri Oldaker and Emily Kirkwood are looking forward to playing for the rebranded Gladstone Suns Matt Taylor GLA161018SUNS

Gladstone Mudcrabs start new era as Suns

AUSSIE RULES: The dawn of a new chapter in the long proud history of the Gladstone Australian Football Club will begin with the brightness of the sun shining upon it.

With a breath of a life needed at the GAFC, traditionally known as the Gladstone Mudcrabs, the club will begin a new era as the Gladstone Suns.

A special general meeting was held last Sunday about the possible rebranding of the club and an association with AFL club the Gold Coast Suns.

President Joe Walsh, who hosted the at-times passionate, difficult meeting, wanted to have a positive future for the club and yet still hold on to its history.

"Technically it's not a name change and we will still remain Gladstone Australian Football Club," Walsh said.

"The honour boards, life members, games played still stay with the club as we are just looking at a reset of it."

For the motion to pass it needed a significant majority consensus at the meeting, with the vote to be at least 75 per cent in favour of change.

A total of 99 votes, including proxies, was tallied, with 87 for and 12 against, meaning 88 per cent were in favour of the change motion.

Despite copping some flak on social media over the rebranding decision, Walsh was adamant it would be in the club's best interests in the long run.

"Already it is looking good with potential sponsors wanting to get on board to support both juniors and seniors," he said.

"In the coming weeks there will be a lot of other important announcements which align with the change."

Another benefit pointed out by Walsh was the opportunity to be in the Suns' "catchment" area - and the access that would provide for the Gladstone club's players to attend the Gold Coast Suns Talent Academy.

The academy is a multi-level coaching program for aspiring players, aged between 12 and 18, providing a pathway from junior sport through to a possible career as an AFL player.

It will cater for young athletes in the northern NSW, Gold Coast, and Far North Queensland (Rockhampton to Cape York) regions.

The newly named club already has several connections to its southern namesake, with Trey Dummett being a Suns' academy product and former Mudcrab Emma Aeschlimann playing for the Gold Coast women's team this year.

Dummett has come through the junior ranks of the Gladstone club and seen first-hand the opportunities to strengthen links with the Gold Coast Suns.

"This is my last year of four years with the Suns' academy and this decision by the club looks to be a good one," Dummett said.

"The academy has helped with training drills and and how to try to approach football in a more professional manner."

Aeschlimann was in the Gold Coast Suns' inaugural senior squad for the 2018 Women's AFL Winter Series - a precursor to the team's inclusion in the AFLW competition in 2020.

Aeschlimann's sister Malinda is a regular for the GAFC team and rising star player herself.

Talented AFLW player Emily Kirkwood saw the brand change as a positive step for the future for the club.

"I've been playing football now for two years and I think it will be really good for the club's future and gather interest for the Suns," Kirkwood said.

"This will help create opportunities for the club and I look forward to it as a new chapter for it."



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