Lasting Impact Of Queensland Hosting 2020 Super Netball Season Revealed
he Suncorp Super Netball 2020 season was delivered solely in a Queensland-based hub due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the two Queensland clubs and the Sunshine Coast Council have revealed the lasting impact of the 2020 season.
Speaking with Ministry of Sport, Sunshine Coast Council councillor for Division 8, Jason O’Pray, explained how the 2020 season was a chance to showcase the region to the world.
“Last year was very unique to start off with and everyone is fully aware of that, but it was actually a real benefit for our region in the fact we were seen as a very comfortable and safe place, a very family friendly environment for people to participate in sport,” O’Pray told Ministry of Sport.
“The Super Netball season that was here for the majority of the season was a massive benefit for our region.
“The reputation and confidence it has given the Sunshine Coast, particularly through the COVID times has escalated to no end,” he said.
When asked about the region’s goal of becoming the home of elite women’s sport in Australia, O’Pray said: “With Sunshine Coast Lightning spearheading our women’s sport programs, we’re already there, we’re right on the cusp of becoming the foremost region in Australia for women’s sport.”
“Not only have we made every final series since we’ve been in the Super Netball competition with Lightning and won two premierships, but coming up on the weekend of June 25-27, we’ll be hosting the Women in Sport Summit, so that means basically every big organisation of sport in Australia will be sending their women component to the Sunshine Coast.
“During those three days, we will be hosting the Women’s State of Origin at Sunshine Coast Stadium, which is probably the biggest event in women’s rugby league, we will be hosting the Collingwood Magpies against Sunshine Coast Lightning at USC Stadium and we will be having the women’s Olympic water polo team having a friendly game in Coolum.
“We are already right in the mix of becoming the most formidable region in Australia for women’s sport,” he said.
Speaking on the experience in 2020 helping the region progress through 2021 and beyond, O’Pray said Lightning have a large part to play.
“With those learnings, we’ve gone one step further and worked out how we can run more things, more efficiently, become more profitable, have more people at games in a safe and friendly manner,” O’Pray said.
“Sunshine Coast Lightning have been a wonderful asset and they are our greatest commercial for the region because they do everything spot on and right,” he said.
Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO, Danielle Smith, also spoke with Ministry of Sport on how the Queensland hub united the entire league.
“The Queensland hub was a fantastic opportunity to bring all the teams here, most of them stayed on the Sunshine Coast, and we shared the hosting duties with Netball Queensland with some of their matches at Nissan Arena and ours at USC Stadium,” Smith told Ministry of Sport.
“The biggest satisfaction for us came out of the fact we could ensure the season went ahead, we were playing our role in looking after all the teams, making sure the athletes, coaches, officials and fans based in Queensland had a great experience.
“A lot of them made a lot of personal sacrifice leaving family and friends, a lot of them were also leaving other part time jobs behind and coupled with that, taking a pay cut; a lot of those athletes were going through a challenging time,” she said.
Smith said any city could have done a good job in hosting the season, but Queensland was able to deliver it to another level of standard.
“Anywhere you host something like that, you would always make the best of the situation you have,” Smith said.
“Any city that had the opportunity would do it well.
“Queensland was generally a safe place for people to be due to low community COVID-19 transmission, and the fact players, coaches and officials were away from their home, Queensland is a nice place to be for that.
“Queensland is such a growing state in all facets, population, economy, infrastructure etc, and we were able to showcase a lot of that to not only the teams, but nationally and internationally,” she said.
Netball Queensland and Queensland Firebirds CEO, Catherine Clark, told Ministry of Sport the Super Netball clubs had a lot of positive feedback for the Queensland clubs for managing the season.
“For teams not usually based here, it was seen as an amazing place and opportunity, because Queensland is, in our eyes, the most beautiful state in Australia and has fantastic advantages like our weather,” Clark told Ministry of Sport.
“Netball’s a winter sport and when you’re living in Queensland, it’s pretty ideal.
“Everyone got a good dose of the liveability and lifestyle in Queensland, and we received a lot of feedback about how beautiful it was and how they loved being based in Queensland.
“At the time also there was a lot of sport happening here, so it’s been magnificent for showcasing the lifestyle we have to offer,” she said.