Opinion

OPINION: Name Sunshine Coast’s grandstand after Ackerman

LAID TO REST: James Ackerman's funeral was held at Sunshine Coast Stadium. A petition is calling for the stadium, or some part of it, to be renamed in his honour.
LAID TO REST: James Ackerman's funeral was held at Sunshine Coast Stadium. A petition is calling for the stadium, or some part of it, to be renamed in his honour. Che Chapman

I DO not agree with Senator Glenn Lazarus' push to rename Sunshine Coast Stadium the "James Ackerman Stadium", but would support a move to rename the main grandstand after the fallen footballer.

As a supporter of rugby league I was crushed to learn the young Sunshine Coast Falcons prop was left fighting for life after he suffered a head injury in a tackle.

A man with whom I was the same age, playing the game I played, in a sport I have fanatically supported since I was a child.

Sunshine Coast Stadium's name shouldn't change, but the main grandstand should be renamed in James Ackerman's honour.
Sunshine Coast Stadium's name shouldn't change, but the main grandstand should be renamed in James Ackerman's honour. Che Chapman

Ackerman's death was devastating.

Now six months on from his death, an online petition to name the Sunshine Coast Stadium after the fallen father started by Senator Lazarus has attracted more than 1300 signatures (as of 9am on January 18).

Ackerman will forever be ingrained in Falcons' folklore, and his memory will live on through his two children, wife Saraa, brothers Andrew and Thomas and parents Michael and Sonya, not to mention his teammates, coaches, fellow players and fans.

I believe the Sunshine Coast Stadium should keep its name, but, if anything, the main grandstand at the ground should be renamed the James Ackerman Grandstand.

Ackerman played his junior footy in Caloundra, he played his last game of rugby league for the Falcons and his funeral service was held at the stadium.

Hervey Bay Seagulls and Maryborough Brothers take a knee for James Ackerman ahead of their Bundaberg Rugby League reserve grade game at Eskdale Park, Maryborough. Photo Matthew McInerney / Fraser Coast Chronicle
Hervey Bay Seagulls and Maryborough Brothers take a knee for James Ackerman ahead of their Bundaberg Rugby League reserve grade game at Eskdale Park, Maryborough. Photo Matthew McInerney / Fraser Coast Chronicle Matthew McInerney

His connection with Sunshine Coast's home of rugby league is stronger than most, and as such should be memorialised at the ground.

The Lillee-Marsh Stand at the WACA and the SCG's Clive Churchill Stand are named as such to remember the ground's sporting heroes and fallen champions.

The James Ackerman Stand could do the same for Sunshine Coast.

Renaming the grandstand makes the most sense to me as the Sunshine Coast Stadium is not just the Falcons' home, but is a multisport facility that includes Oztag, touch football and soccer (not to mention other major events).

To pick one athlete from one sport would be disservice to the other sports who call it home (you wouldn't call the MCG the Bill Ponsford Ground or the SCG the Clive Churchill Ground), but to name part of the complex after Ackerman would be the perfect tribute.

Topics:  james ackerman, rugby league, sunshine coast falcons, sunshine coast stadium



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