Bella signs with the Gold Coast SUNS

Published: 16 Apr 2019

The Gold Coast SUNS have confirmed that SUNS Academy graduate, Mackay product Lauren Bella, has signed with the club ahead of its inaugural AFLW season.

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,” she said.

“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.

Mayor Greg Williamson and Bella made the announcement on behalf of the Gold Coast SUNS at Great Barrier Reef Arena, Harrup Park today.

The SUNS have a strong partnership with the region and Mackay Regional Council, including a partnership deal with the Mackay Waterfront, and Bella said that relationship was something 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.

The Gold Coast SUNS will play a Queensland Women's Winter Series game in Mackay in 2019, followed by one AFLW Premiership match for the next three years.

The SUNS have also signed another Mackay product Emma Pittman to the club from the Brisbane Lions.

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.”