Lightning set to #light it up in grand final

Mon, 12th Jun 2017
PREVIEW

Our first elite sports team, the Sunshine Coast Lightning, has done us proud in their maiden season. As they head into the Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final this weekend at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, our community will be cheering them on. 

The Sunshine Coast Lightning has proven they are a force to be reckoned with and have played an almost infallible season in their quest for the top position in the Suncorp Super Netball competition.

On June 17, they will take on Sydney’s Giants Netball in the grand final in what will be the culmination of a dream maiden season.

Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO Danielle Smith says one of the keys to their success is that every member of the team, both on and off the court, shared the same values and had the right attitude.

 “It always comes down to the people. We are all passionate and we all wanted to make it successful. Everyone has had a say in all aspects along the way and everyone’s feeling like they are part of it,” she tells My Weekly Preview.

“Our focus for building a strong team culture came from the (partner club, NRL’s Melbourne) Storm, but there is something unique and special in everyone being part of this club in the inaugural year that brings everyone together.”

It’s not only the club’s infancy that makes the Lightning unique in the national competition, it is also the fact that they are the only team that trains and plays at the same venue – the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Smith says every home game has sold out and the club hoped to work with the uni and the Sunshine Coast Council to expand the capacity of the venue in order to allow more people to watch elite sport on the Coast in the future.

A dedicated team of 50 volunteers have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and at local matches and more than 2200 members have joined the club as loyal fans.

A number of corporate backers, some of whom came on board before the player and coach recruitment was complete, have also played a large role in the club’s success.

Visit Sunshine Coast is one of the Lightning’s largest sponsors and CEO Simon Latchford says the Lightning is much more than a sporting team.

“They’re a national billboard for what makes the Sunshine Coast such a dynamic and attractive destination,” he says.

“They are travelling around the country and in front of both packed houses and via national Channel 9 and GEM coverage have left people with an indelible memory of the Sunshine Coast. It really builds on our narrative that the Sunshine Coast is a place where health, fitness and sport blend naturally with the landscape.”

Latchford says tourism industry feedback shows there has been an increase in day trip visitors during home game matches.

“Whether the Lightning win the grand final or not – just making it to this point is a massive achievement in their debut year,” he says.

“The media exposure of the final and Sunshine Coast name and brand in the spotlight will equate to positive publicity for the region. Equally impressive is the fact the team and club are just as good ambassadors off the court as they are on it.”

The Grand Final
Sunshine Coast Lightning v Giants Netball on June 17 at 7pm at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Tickets are available at ticketek.com.au. 

Gala Awards Night
June 23 from 6.30pm to 11.30pm at The Events Centre, Caloundra. Formal dress code. Tickets are $170 for members and $185 for non-members and are available at sunshinecoastlightning.com.au until June 16.