The Suns are not phased by the naming of it's new reserves league, Photo: goldcoastfc.com.au

Gold Coast Suns chief executive Mark Evans said he's unfazed by the naming of the new eastern reserves league, but more focused on developing the talent at the club.

An age old criticism within football circles, the notion of a ‘Victorian bias’ in the game received a huge boost this week with the announcement of the re-vamped eastern states reserves football league being named the VFL sparking immediate controversy. 

Featuring 22 clubs, including 16 from Victoria and six from New South Wales and Queensland, the competition is a merger of the VFL and NEAFL and will become the largest second-tier football league in Australia. 

Speaking to media earlier this week at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast Suns CEO Mark Evans weighed in on the debate surrounding the branding of the new reserves competition. 

“I am always more worried about the quality of the competition than the name,” Evans said. 

“We’ll start off with the name Victorian Football League and there is a heritage and a history and a quality component that goes with that.

“But my challenge to the AFL is once a Queensland based team wins that competition in its first year, then maybe next year we call it the Queensland Football League and the Victorian teams can come and play in our league.” 

Evans is excited by the opportunity this expanded reserves league gives the club to help develop its younger players. 

“I’ve never really been as worried by the naming of the league as I am about the way the league operates,” he said. 

“The best thing for me is it gives a chance to showcase and build the young talent that we’ve got and there will be some advantages in travelling to Melbourne more frequently and having our young players experience that.

“Anything that helps us develop players is a really good outcome and there is no doubt this league will be of immense quality, the highest quality in the land.

“I also think the construct of the competition needs to be equal and fair to everybody and I look forward to continuing that debate somewhere into the future.”

It was a momentous day for the Gold Coast Suns off the field as they, along with AFL Queensland, announced a partnership with the Queensland government in the form of road safety education program Street Smarts

Evans speaks of the importance of this campaign and how the Suns will promote it throughout the 2021 season and beyond. 

“What tools and experiences can we give young people to become safe and responsible users of our roads and how can we at the Gold Coast Suns amplify the messages around road safety to the broader community, this partnership will aim to do all of that,” he said. 

“We’ll do it through two distinct components one is the involvement with the Queensland Schools Cup, one of the fasting growing schools competition in Australia.

“But also through promotions and activations with the Gold Coast Suns which will include match day advertising, themes inside our matches, social media campaigns and use of our players in talking at schools.

“In effect we are going to help coach the community about road safety.” 

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