Suncorp Spirit Cup comes to Mackay

The inaugural Suncorp Spirit Cup will take place at the Mackay Multisport Stadium on Saturday, November 26.

The pre-season match, proudly supported by Suncorp, means an early Queensland derby for Sunshine Coast Lightning and the Queensland Firebirds ahead of the 2023 Suncorp Super Netball season.

It will be the first Suncorp Spirit Cup after March’s game on the Gold Coast was postponed due to southeast Queensland’s severe weather event.

The event is set to become an annual fixture on the calendar, played across a different regional venue each year to ensure more Queenslanders can experience the thrill of live netball at the highest level.

It also further emphasises Suncorp’s dedication to both elite netball and grassroots pathways, supporting their partnerships with Suncorp Super Netball and Suncorp Team Girls Cup.

Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO Danielle Smith said the pre-season match will provide an opportunity to connect with fans in the Mackay region.

“We know how much North Queensland love their netball, so it’s fantastic to work with Suncorp and the Queensland Firebirds to bring them an exciting pre-season game ahead of the 2023 Suncorp Super Netball season,” Smith said.

“Connecting with regional communities is something we value at Lightning, and so it’s special to go up there and play in front of the Mackay fans.”

It will be the first official match for Lightning’s new Head Coach (still to be announced) and will see Diamonds shooters Steph Wood and Cara Koenen join Laura Scherian, Mahalia Cassidy and Tara Hinchliffe — who has recently been announced in the Australian FAST5 squad — on the court.

Netball Queensland and Queensland Firebirds Chief Executive Kate Davies said the Suncorp Spirit Cup concept married up well with the organisation’s initiatives under its recently revamped Strategic Plan for 2023-25.

“Growing our great game across the whole state of Queensland is a key objective for us,” Davies said.

“Some of the most passionate and loyal members of the netball community live in regional areas and there is a large Firebirds’ fanbase in Mackay and north Queensland, so this is a great opportunity to take the game and our team to them.

“Connecting our elite teams to netball communities across the state allows our players to directly inspire the next generation of talent.

“The Suncorp Spirit Cup is a fantastic example of what can happen when working in conjunction with two great organisations such as Suncorp and Sunshine Coast Lightning and with support from Mackay Regional Council who is helping to facilitate and promote the match throughout the region.”

The Firebirds will head to Mackay under the leadership of new head coach Bec Bulley and with a squad including Diamonds players Donnell Wallam and Ruby Bakewell-Doran as well as newcomers Remi Kamo, Ashlee Unie and Macy Gardner.

Suncorp Executive General Manager of Brand and Marketing Mim Haysom said Suncorp was excited to be supporting both Queensland based Suncorp Super Netball teams to bring live netball to Mackay.

“Suncorp is proud to work with both the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning to bring netball to a region that doesn’t usually get to see players at the elite level live in action,” Haysom said.

“The Suncorp Spirit Cup celebrates our commitment to supporting netball in our home state of Queensland and we are excited for this event to be an annual fixture for many years.”

The Suncorp Spirit Cup will be played at the Mackay Multisport Stadium from 7pm on Saturday, November 26.

Tickets to the match go on sale in the week starting October 10.

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