The Gold Coast now boasts three football teams in an elite national competition and a Griffith graduate is helping shape its newest entrant.
Fiona McLarty is the Head of Women’s Football for the Gold Coast SUNS AFL team which entered the national AFLW competition in 2020.
She started her career working for AFL Queensland in the Gold Coast region, followed by roles at the state and national level after graduating from Griffith with two degrees; A bachelor of exercise Science and Master of Sports Management..
“To be home and work for the Gold Coast Suns and the club, it’s almost like I’ve come full circle,” she said.
“It’s really exciting and you actually have to remind yourselves how quickly it happened.
“So 2001, when I started working for AFL, was when they first had a structured women’s competition, and there was only four teams and we would play every second week.
“So now, I think Queensland’s got 40 per cent female participation across their programs and there’s no reason why we can’t be 50/50 male-female in years to come. It’s just so exciting to see and it’s been a real privilege, I think, to see that progression and to see the girls come through the pathway.
She’s excited by the ongoing links to Griffith University with 23 of the club’s mens and womens players part of Griffith College’s Elite Athlete Program.
It’s all part of Griffith University’s commitment as Research and Education partner of the Gold Coast Suns, announced in September 2019.
“Griffith is a great, strong Gold Coast brand now,” McLarty said.
“It’s got a really big presence. It’s really good for us to be aligned with them and just the opportunities that we provide for the students too.