(All Photos: Queensland Sports Photography)
QUEENSLAND-based rugby league teams from Pacific Island nations are gearing up to play in this weekends Queensland Pacific Island Cultural Carnival being held at Bill Norris Oval, Beenleigh.
The two-day carnival on Saturday and Sunday (October 26-27) will see teams representing Fiji, New Zealand Maori, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Each nation will field a team in the Under 14, Under 16, Under 18 and Open Mens categories as they vie for Broncos Queensland Pacific Island Cultural Carnival trophy in each of those divisions.
Former New Zealand Kiwi international Sam Panapa, who is part of the organising committee, said the competition was a celebration of culture and was also an opportunity to use sport to drive community development.
The underlying meaning of this carnival is to celebrate Pacific Island communities and Indigenous communities," Panapa said.
The competition has been running for a number of years, but this is the first time the Queensland Rugby League has come on board, which is great.
A community driven initiative involving Queensland based representatives from competing nations, the QPICC event is sanctioned by the Queensland Rugby League and supported by the Brisbane Broncos.
The Broncos are proud to support this carnival and we hope it is successful for many years to come, Broncos Game Development Manager Paul Dyer said.
The concept is great and our support is an extension of our involvement and commitment to developing stronger communities.
The new-look carnival has generated immense interest within a short space of time, with a Sydney-based Africa United Under 18 team being included as well as an exhibition match on Sunday between an Under 17 New Zealand Residents Maori team and a Queensland Residents Maori team.
Panapa said the inaugural event has brought communities together and is expecting more than 6000 people to attend across the two days.
This event is the result of months of planning in collaboration with the Queensland Rugby League and has been about growth and collaboration to build stronger communities, Panapa said.
This event will build confidence within those communities and that will filter down to the players, which in turn will help to nurture a new brand of Pacific Islander player.
An official opening ceremony will kick off proceedings, at 7.50am on Saturday, with a Welcome to Country followed by a march past.
Organisers are predicting the traditional cultural war dance performed by each nation during the opening ceremony, will be a highlight and is an event not to be missed.