GOLD Coast Suns AFLW All-Australian Kalinda Howarth believes the Suns and Brisbane Lions could soon become “destination clubs” for big name players who have embraced the Queensland lifestyle since hubbing in the Sunshine State.
Queensland became the adoptive home of the AFL this year with many of the competition’s best players taking up semipermanent residence in the state’s southeast.
And though the majority will return to their home states once the season ends on October 24 at the Gabba, the seed has now been planted, the 21 year old said.
“It’s been a really tough period that we’ve gone through but it’s done wonders for Queensland,” Howarth said.
“We’ve really sold ourselves up here as being a great destination. Both of our clubs will be great destination clubs now.
“In the trade period we might even be able to get some bigger names come up here because they’ve been able to experience what we have to offer.”
At a fan level, not since the Lions’ three-peat of premiership successes in the early 2000s has Queensland held such strong interest in the code.
It helps also that the Lions are one preliminary final win over Geelong away from playing in the grand final.
Living on the Gold Coast, Howarth has seen first-hand a growing shift of support even from neutrals.
The AFL is now the talk of the town.
“It’s definitely doing wonders for the Gold Coast. I think it’s selling us well,” Howarth said.
“People who might not have known much about AFL are now having conversations (about it).
“Seeing bigger teams like Richmond training at Metricon (and) having people go down to watch that I think has built a big excitement around AFL and we’re only going to see it grow from here.”