Here comes the Suns

May 30, 2024 11:35 am in by
Image: Surf Coast Suns

Surf Coast Suns president Jay Williams has welcomed the certainty that comes with AFL Barwon approving the club’s application to become the Bellarine Football Netball League’s 11th club.

The local governing body ratified a 2026 entry for Surf Coast, which started as a junior football club in 2016, at a special meeting of its commission last (Wednesday) night.

It followed a meeting with the ten current Bellarine clubs earlier in the evening.

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Even without senior football and netball, Surf Coast is the 12th biggest club in the region by participation.

“Now, we can say to those guys and girls that are 14 (years old) and above that are looking down the line, there’s going to be somewhere for them to play if they stick around,” Williams said.

“The problem we have had – and are having now – (is that) talented girls and boys have been leaving because they haven’t got a pathway.

“The most important thing for us and what we wanted to do was to create it. And now that we’ve got certainty, it’s massive.

“We’ve done everything we can, and we’re absolutely delighted and very excited and just want to get straight to it.”

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Williams had hoped for a 2025 entry but is comfortable with AFL Barwon’s decision to delay that by a year.

“Because it’s dragged on a little bit longer than what everybody thought, this whole process, for football, especially, it makes more sense to be ’26,” he said.

“On the netball side of things, we are comfortable now, and it does make sense, with the surety that netball were looked after because they were probably more ready than us in terms of talented girls coming through and willing to play seniors.

“They’ve got a (under) 19s to participate in, and they’ve got that stepping stone connecting them from juniors to seniors.”

“We’re pretty sure they should be able to slip into the Bellarine and play against the clubs they will be playing against the following year in seniors.”

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Expanding the club’s footprint in the current pavilion tops the list of priorities for Surf Coast.

“Working with (Surf Coast) Council … to make it our own clubroom,” Williams said.

“All the facilities are there, and they are really good. But, it’s just coordinating with them to make sure we can turn it into our base in the interim before we get this facility built in the coming years.

“Behind that is looking for people to come and help build the lists for football and netball.

“Financially, we’re in a really good spot. We’ve grown sponsorship threefold, and we’re nearly at a point where we could have supported a senior program next season with a couple of add-ons.

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“Now, we can take a bit more time to make sure we land a couple of bigger ones.”

Williams is aware of the negativity towards Surf Coast’s entry, with suggestions some clubs were against the Suns joining the competition.

His question for those against Surf Coast joining the BFNL is ‘why?’.

“Torquay’s definitely big enough for two clubs,” Williams said.

“Our participation numbers suggest that kids just fall off without a pathway. Then they’ve got to chase other clubs or other places to play, or they just don’t play at all.

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“The results in the BFL, and the GFL as well, have been very similar for the last handful of years, so something had to change.

“Growth is inevitable, so I think it’s exciting to have another club in.

“And I think the league will be trying their hardest to get a 12th one so that it remains without byes.”