The UNSW Eastern Suburbs Stingrays Women’s and Bulldogs Men’s teams will serve under the same banner in 2018.
Following the continued success of the Stingray, who became back-to-back AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division champions in 2017, and the growth of the women’s game across the country, the club has decided to run on one licence as the UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs from 2018 and beyond.
Bulldogs President, Stephen Dunkley says the bringing together of the two teams has been a long time coming.
“The transition from the Stingrays to the Bulldogs has been something that has been discussed many times over the years,” explains Dunkley.
“In 2017, following a series of formal discussions and informal conversations with players and stakeholders, we agreed as an Executive that our mandate was to establish a ‘one club’ culture.
“Our vision is to be the ‘Club of Choice’, which is underpinned by our purpose to provide development pathways for all players, and ensure sustainable on field and off-field success. To do this, we must be united under one franchise.”
For the UNSW Eastern Suburbs Club, it will not only mean operational efficiency, but it will also create a clear link between their junior clubs, as the next generation of Youth Girls talent emerges.
“Let me be clear – this is not a takeover of any sorts. It’s a well thought out strategic initiative that’s in line with the success of AFLW and the growth of women’s football.”
“It also means our Youth Girls who are currently being nurtured in the AFL Sydney Juniors competition at the Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs and Maroubra Saints, have a clear link and an accessible pathway that is no different from their male counterparts.
“We currently run two websites, two Facebook pages and different registration processes, which creates multiple work for our volunteers. Plus, with two different brands, logos and colour schemes, the external perception is that we’re separate entities, despite running under one corporate governance structure.”
Stingrays Captain, Jemma Still also strongly endorses the move, which will see her side trade the yellow, white and black for the red, white and blue in 2018.
“We’ve grown incredibly as a club since I joined seven years ago, and at the same time, women’s football has exploded in terms of participation and professionalism,” says Still.
“Now is the right time for us to formally take on the Bulldogs name and show we’re a powerhouse of AFL Sydney.”
Still is also adamant that the years of Stingrays history will not be lost as the club continues under the Bulldogs banner.
“As a foundation team of AFL Sydney Women’s, hundreds of women have pulled on a jersey with a Stingray front and centre, and the catch cry of ‘Go the Rays’ has echoed around many a suburban ground for nearly twenty years.
“Our commitment to them is that these memories will not be lost and the inclusive club spirit and culture will continue to live on.”