Two Homegrown Heroes Sign With GC Suns AFLW Side
Lauren Bella fronting the media on Tuesday. Video Still
Lauren Bella from Mackay, who signed with the Brisbane Lions AFLW Team last year, has announced that she has signed with the Gold Coast Suns for their inaugural season.
She said she is excited to be coming home and signing with the Suns.
Bella, who spent her junior years representing the SUNS and AFLW Academy was also selected in the Under 18 All Australian side two years in row.
“I’ve grown up in the SUNS Academy, so it’s really exciting to be coming home,” Bella said.
“The SUNS Academy helped me to get to where I am today.
“I’ve always grown up wanting to play football, it’s my passion, I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember.”
Bella is originally from Sarina in Mackay but has moved to the Gold Coast to pursue her football.
The SUNS have a strong partnership with the Mackay region over a number of years, something Bella said she wanted to help continue to foster and grow.
“I’m really big with cultural aspects of clubs and trying to promote football with the younger generations," Bella said.
“To be able to work with kids and promote the game amongst the next generation especially in my home town, is a fantastic opportunity.
“The AFLW is a great competition, being able to look up at role models, who I’ve looked up to for so long and now I get to play with and against them.”
Bella, 18, played three games for the Brisbane Lions in 2019, after being selected with pick 45 in the 2018 NAB AFLW Draft.
Lauren Bella. Image Credit: Scott Linden
She said her first AFLW season was 'fast', adding it has provided her with a benchmark for future years.
She acknowledged the opportunities afforded to her by kicking off her AFLW career with the Lions.
Lauren said it has always been a dream of hers to play for the Brisbane Lions and that happened.
But now that there is an opportunity to play for the Gold Coast Suns, she said she is proud to be able to play for them.
Lauren admitted that her decision to switch clubs was a "tough one" but the right one for her.
She said "being able to play on home soil means a lot to me".
Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson and Lauren Bella. Image Credit: Scott Linden
The Suns have also signed Mackay local Emma Pittman. Lauren said she is "excited to be able to play alongside Emma again".
Pittman, 26, has played eight games in two years at Brisbane after being drafted in 2017.
The 165cm rebounding defender is no stranger to elite sport, having played as a striker for the Brisbane Roar in the W-League from 2012-2013.
Pittman first started playing AFL as an adult, but quickly found her aptitude to the sport, being named in the QWAFL team of the year in 2017.
“It’s fantastic that we have secured Emma as a Gold Coast SUNS player for 2020,” SUNS Head of Women’s Football Fiona McLarty said.
“Being a cross-code athlete, Emma has lots of experience she can draw from and has shown exciting signs in her time at the Lions.
“It’s also great to get another Mackay product onto our list and I’m sure Emma will be thrilled to be able to play football in front of friends and family up there when we take AFLW matches to Mackay.”
The Suns are in a partnership agreement with Mackay Regional Council and have academy links here.
The Gold Coast SUNS will play a Queensland Women's Winter Series game in Mackay on June 23, followed by one AFLW Premiership match for the next three years.