The history-making Sunshine Coast Lightning have today been presented with a key to the city after becoming the inaugural Suncorp Super Netball champions.
In front of hundreds of jubilant fans in a welcome home celebration at the Kings Beach Amphitheatre at Caloundra, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson awarded the key to Lightning captain Geva Mentor to formally recognise the team’s achievement.
The Lightning, who came together less than a year ago as the Coast’s first team in an elite national sporting competition, defeated the Giants 65-48 in the grand final at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Saturday night.
The game was watched live by a crowd of 8990 and a national TV viewing audience calculated at 447,000 viewers.
“The pride we feel in their achievement is enormous,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Our congratulations and thanks go to everyone involved in making this first year of the Lightning such a success.
“I can remember that when we launched the Lightning, coach Noelene Taurua predicted her team would make the finals.
“Some people thought she was being very bold.
“Of course now we know they did much better than a top-four appearance.
“The Lightning took on all the big city teams as the only regional club in the competition and ended up as number one.”
Mayor Jamieson said the Lightning squad had become great role models in the Coast community in a short period of time.
“They deserve to be commended for the way in which they have engaged with the Sunshine Coast community and really shown what being an elite athlete is all about,” he said.
“One of the major benefits of being part of this ground-breaking new national competition is the impact it has had and will continue to have on our grassroots netball.
“There has been a huge increase in numbers playing netball throughout all of our Sunshine Coast competitions.”