Board of Directors

Cr Maurie Soars

nqsf chair

Townsville City Council
Director representing Large Local Government Authority


I have had a lifelong passion for sport in all forms starting off as a four-year old with AFL – a sport I continue to be heavily involved in still, and a sport from which I have made lifelong friends.

Along the way I was lucky enough to enjoy success in Athletics, Drag Racing, Power Boat and Yacht racing and Clay Target shooting (where I met my wife).  Holding several State, National and International records in multiple sports leads me to understand the skill, drive, ambition and support needed to shine in your chosen field.

I have spent over thirty years administering, and coaching AFL, continuing to play with Master’s AFL until the age of 63 and holding National Coaching Accreditations.

Some of the roles I have managed are:

  • Chairperson – Townsville City Council Sport & Recreation 
  • Committee Member – Townsville City Council Infrastructure & Governance and Finance
  • Director – Townsville Motor Boat & Yacht Club
  • President – Townsville City Lions AFL Club
  • President – Townsville Masters AFL Club
  • President – AFL Townsville
  • Queensland Regional Director – AFL Masters
  • Chair – 2019 AFL Masters National Carnival
  • VP Senior Football – Northern Beaches SUNS AFL Club
  • Chair – North Queensland Sports Foundation
  • Board Member – Food Relief NQ, Volunteering North Queensland

Cr Rhonda Coghlan


Cairns Regional Council
Director representing Large Local Government Authority

I have  lived in North Queensland for around 30 years.

I’ve worked mostly in financial services over that  time. My roles have included Financial planning, Branch Manager, Business Banking Specialist, BDM Superannuation and Relationship Manager Superannuation.

I’ve always taken an interest in local sport. I’ve been heavily  involved  with Rugby League, and cycling is a passion, however I do have a very broad interest over all.

Cr Laurence Bonaventura


Mackay Regional Council
Director representing Large Local Government Authority


Cr Laurence Bonaventura is serving his third term as a councillor on Mackay Regional Council and his first as a board member of the North Queensland Sports Foundation (NQSF). As an elected representative, he has a keen interest in supporting organisations that enable people of all ages the opportunity to engage in their sporting interests. An avid NQ Cowboys fan, his three children grew up playing sport. Having witnessed them and others develop mateship, teamwork and fitness they carry on into adult life highlights the importance of sport in a thriving community. Cr Bonaventura is a member of council’s Sports Expo and Sign-on Day Working Group. The 2019 event he helped plan and stage was the biggest and best yet in its 10-year history, attracting a crowd of about 8000.  He looks forward to promoting sport in the Mackay region and North Queensland through his involvement with the NQSF.

Cr Jane Pickels


Isaac Regional Council
Director representing Medium Local Government Authority

Moving to Queensland in 1984 Cr Pickels quickly became involved in the community through the Moranbah Neighbourhood Centre, Moranbah Hawks’ Soccer, Nebo State School P&C and Middlemount tennis, rugby league and netball associations. She is a member of Middlemount’s Community Sports’ Association and Rugby League Club.

Cr Pickels is married to Greg and they have four adult children and two grandchildren. A self-confessed ‘sports nut’, she loves to play and watch sport and is involved at an administrative level. She also enjoys cooking, travelling and spending time with her family.


As a Director of the NQSF Cr Pickels has a passion for building the capacity of grassroot sporting clubs, with the ultimate goal of improving the health and liveability of regional communities.

Deputy Mayor Sonia Bennetto

nqsf vice chair

Charters Regional Council
Director representing Medium Local Government Authority



Sonia Bennetto is the serving Deputy Mayor of the Charters Towers Regional Council.  With degrees in Education and Marketing, Sonia has over 14 years of experience in business development, vocational training, strategic marketing, product development, copywriting and digital design.  She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has developed considerable expertise in corporate governance and strategic planning.

Sonia serves as Publicity Officer of the Isolated Children’s Parents Association Branch of Charters Towers and recognises the significance of keeping regional community members connected to sports and exercise, for both their mental and physical wellbeing.

A strong advocate for innovation and creativity in the workplace, Sonia is passionate about identifying unique opportunities to develop community connections, capacity, and resilience through the benefits of sports and recreation in the regions.

Jon Sieben OAM


Director representing Non Local Local Government Authorities and Life Members

Development Committee CHAIR

Brett Maff


Independent Director
Audit & Risk Committee CHAIR

Mark Tyrell


Independent Director

I have over 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry. I have spent the last 5 years as a Financial Adviser working in my own business. My experience includes working for Suncorp Metway Bank for 10 years in lending and management roles. I have also held various finance and banking roles both in Australia and overseas from 1999 through to 2014.

I am actively involved in the local business community and currently sit on the Board, as President, of Community Gro, a Townsville based community services provider.

I am also involved with Rum Runners Junior Touch Football Club in both a co-ordinators capacity and various coaching roles.

I have been a board member of the North Queensland Sports Foundation for four years and am extremely proud of their achievments in this time. I was attracted to the Foundation as I have a very strong belief that sport plays an integral role in our lives through the development of health and wellbeing and learning to become a valuable  member of a team.

Cr Marilyn Morris


Cook Shire Council.

Director representing Small Local Government Authority

I am a passionate advocate for ‘all-inclusive community lifestyles’ in all areas of our everyday life.  I have spent many years working within the local Government sector at a community level coordinating healthy recreation options for local families in NT regional communities and more recently here in FNQ.

Non-Local Authority Members

Life Members