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New-look sports body to implement several initiatives to promote activity and athletes

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A former top-100 tennis player is the new head of a local group that supports grassroots sports and acknowledges the achievements of athletes.

Michelle Jaggard-Lai has taken on the role of chair at Sunshine Coast Sports, while Charlie Hemming and Angela Coombes have been welcomed to the group as board members.

Ms Jaggard-Lai steps into the position – replacing Simone Pearce – with experience in professional sports and business, and a passion for community engagement.

Her career spans five decades in diverse sports arenas.

She competed in eight grand slams as a singles player and 10 grand slams as a doubles player from 1989 to 1993. She has fostered youth sports, created coaching pathways and organised school competitions, and has managed teams and owned sports businesses in large community venues.

“I am honoured to be chosen as the new chair of Sunshine Coast Sports,” she said.

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“The original appointed board has done a tremendous job of rebranding, committing to strength by governance and selecting board members of highly equipped diverse skill sets to now deliver sports initiatives to the community.

“We, as a collective board, aim to act on our commitments to deliver on our promises over the coming months and I’m thankful that I have been entrusted as the new chair to be alongside a team of great well versed people and fortunate to be guided by the previous board.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hemming has more than 25 years’ experience in business and sport, while Ms Coombes has a focus on community outreach and inclusive programs that should enhance the organisation’s ability to build strong partnerships with sports clubs. She has been a volunteer for various sports programs as a player, manager, coach, mentor, committee member and spokesperson.

Sunshine Coast Sports is focused on supporting grassroots sport and physical activity. Picture: Shutterstock

With the new leadership team, the organisation is set to launch several initiatives including the expansion of youth sports programs, the introduction of adaptive sports for individuals with disabilities, and the establishment of new community sports facilities.

The board issued a statement thanking Ms Pearce for her time, dedication and achievements.

“We would like to thank Simone for her leadership and drive to make Sunshine Coast Sport a reality, and we wish Simone and her family every success,” they said.

The board also thanked outgoing board member Brenda LaPorte for her contributions to during the years.

Founded in 1968, Sunshine Coast Sports has a proud history of fostering and celebrating sports in the region. The volunteer-governed body has played a role in supporting grassroots sports and acknowledging the achievements of local athletes, both abled and para. It has been a link between local sports, government, sports bodies and the media.

The flagship of the organisation, the Sunshine Coast Sports Awards, has annually honoured the exceptional contributions of athletes, clubs, teams, administrators and volunteers. The return of the awards in 2022 marked a renewed commitment to recognising the sporting excellence within the Sunshine Coast and Noosa council regions.

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