Sunshine Coast Lightning and the Queensland Firebirds are thrilled to announce much-loved pre-season match, the Suncorp Spirit Cup, will head to Townsville in 2024.

The regional event, proudly sponsored by Suncorp, will be going into its third year — taking place on Saturday, 2 March at 5pm at the Townsville Stadium.

The Firebirds will be looking to hold onto the trophy and retain Queensland bragging rights after a thrilling encounter in Toowoomba in 2023 which ended in a draw.

Both Firebirds and Lightning players will be immersing themselves in the local community, hosting a joint clinic for local Townsville netballers to enjoy the evening before the match and a free community meet-and-greet on Sunday, 3 March from 8.00–9.30am.

Suncorp CEO Consumer Insurance Lisa Harrison said the Group was excited to be supporting both Queensland based Suncorp Super Netball teams, to bring live netball to Townsville.

“Suncorp is really pleased to work with the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning teams to bring elite netball to the region before the start of the Suncorp Super Netball season,” Ms Harrison said.

“The Suncorp Spirit Cup celebrates our commitment to supporting netball in our home state of Queensland.”

This pre-season match has been made possible due to a grant from Townsville City Council.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said being able to host the Suncorp Spirit Cup was a great win for local businesses and local netballers.

“Netball is one of Australia’s most popular sports and is the fastest-growing participation sport for men and boys in the country,” Cr Hill said.

“To have international calibre netball players here in Townsville is a major coup for the city and I’m sure it will be well supported by the community.

“We expect this will attract a lot of visitors to come to Townsville which will also be a major win for our hoteliers, restaurateurs and retailers.”

Lightning Head Coach Belinda Reynolds said this match is crucial for the team’s season preparation.

“The Suncorp Spirit Cup is an important pre-season match for us as it allows us to test our combinations ahead of the SSN season against a strong side. It’s also fantastic we’ll be able to meet and play in front of our North Queensland Members and fans again,” she said.

Firebirds Head Coach Bec Bulley was equally excited for the chance to face Lightning as part of their 2024 SSN preparations, especially with regional Queensland products Isabelle Shearer (Rockhampton) and training partner Sasha-May Flegler (Tully) as part of the Firebirds 2024 squad.

“Any match between the Firebirds and Lightning is a challenge we look forward to,” Bulley said.

“The Suncorp Spirit Cup not only gives us a key match-up during our pre-season but is a great opportunity for us to bring the players of both clubs to regional areas and really connect with our fans throughout the state.”

March’s contest will be played in a regular format, with four 15-minute quarters and the Suncorp Super Shot in play.

Tickets for the event go on sale Thursday, 1 February at 10am AEST.

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