A Townsville semi-professional netball team will now be able to compete in the Netball Queensland Sapphire Series thanks to a grant from Townsville City Council.

Council today approved a grant for the Northern Rays covering $38,386 for stadium costs, including a fee waiver for use of Townsville Stadium, and $11,337 for an improved marketing and media campaign.

Community and Cultural Development Committee chairperson Ann-Maree Greaney said Council was proud to support the team in its efforts to compete in the Sapphire Series.

“We love sports here in North Queensland, nothing brings the community together quite like a good game to cheer on. This is why Council is proud to support the Northern Rays in their quest to compete in the Netball Queensland Sapphire Series and hopefully do Townsville proud,” Cr Greaney said.

“This competition will help Townsville be promoted on a national scale and will help bring money into local hospitality and tourism businesses when supporters travel to Townsville to cheer on their team.

“Just last year Townsville hosted Super Netball, with the Sunshine Coast Lightning and the Collingwood Magpies going head to head in the league’s Indigenous Round. There’s a real thirst for live netball here in Townsville and the crowd numbers go to show that. I’m sure those same supporters will turn out for the Northern Rays, and hopefully bring a few new faces along too.”

Cr Greaney said there were also health benefits for the community.

“The players will be able to enjoy active and healthy lifestyles through competing, but there’s also a positive impact on supporters who are more likely to make healthy choices and be more connected with their community as a result of attending games,” she said.

“As the team continues to develop there will be more opportunity for long-lasting benefits to the community, including volunteer opportunities, interstate sports tourism and a focus on active living.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Northern Rays represent Townsville in the Sapphire Series later this year.”