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Story and photo courtesy of the Fraser Coast Chronicle - By Griffith Thomas

Ross Zelow is going to find out shortly that no matter what he does, not everyone will agree with him.

It comes with the territory when you take on the role as Fraser Coast Junior Rugby League president.

Zelow, however, seems well placed to deal with the criticism and the enormous amount of work to be done by him and the executive committee.

"Everyone is doing it for the love of the sport and the game," said Zelow, who served as the Hervey Bay Seagulls' junior president last year.

"We've had a few stumbling blocks but we have a vision and a journey and trying to get a plan together to move the league forward.

"There have been some attempts in the past so we've got the groundwork to develop and now we need to take it to a higher level."

The FCJRL has launched into a new era with Zelow to lead a completely new executive committee ready to steer rugby league on the Fraser Coast to a brighter future.

For the first time in years, all four Fraser Coast clubs (Maryborough Wallaroos, Brothers Maryborough, Burrum Miners and Hervey Bay Seagulls) are represented on the committee, as well as the referees' association.

The committee is planning for an exciting year with the view of bringing FCJRL back to the high standard and credibility the district once held among the rugby league fraternity in Queensland.

"There's a real commitment from all clubs to get involved this year which is a huge benefit and a good sign that everyone is in it for the development of rugby league on the Fraser Coast," Zelow said.

"It's a way every club can have input into the Fraser Coast but also a way we're able to get the message back to each club about where the league wants to move and develop."

Further down the track, Zelow would like to see Eskdale Park, the home of Fraser Coast rugby league, receive a long overdue revamp.

For the first time in years, FCJRL will also be seeking sponsorship for the grounds and grandstands.

"Each club has their individual grounds and we have to respect that. But we want to draw people back to Eskdale Park and get it to be the centre of league it used to be," Zelow said.

"That's the challenge for us, but if we want to bring a lot more league back here, then we need to develop the ground so it can be used 365 days a year and not just in the league season.

"We want to open it up to other sports and make it a multi-sport venue so we can encourage more kids back into playing sport."

The other major challenge confronting Zelow is convincing all clubs to compete against each other in all age groups of the FCJRL competition.

Previously, the Seagulls have run their own competition at Stafford Park for under-6 to under-10 players but Zelow said it was vital that all players in the future had an opportunity to play against each other.

"We're trying to develop a draw to bring it all together and have a structure where kids want to play each other because I'm sure they don't want to play against the same players each week." he said.

"We acknowledge Hervey Bay has developed that (its own competition) because at Fraser district level, we haven't had ourselves organised enough. But in the long run, we want to have a competition where Brothers, Wallaroos and Burrum play Hervey Bay every week."

Another challenge at the top of the list of priorities for the 2015 season is improving the representative program.

The Fraser Coast Crushers under-13 and under-14 sides have already started training for selection to compete at the 47th Battalion carnival at Bundaberg, while the under-15 girls squad will start later this year.

"We want to bring that pride and passion back and we will be looking at selectors and people involved who can identify talent so they can bring together a squad and nurture them," Zelow said.

"We're looking forward to developing the girls program but for the 13s, 14s and 15s, we want to give them a pathway so they can move into the Cyril Connell Cup and Mal Meninga Cup. It's been a bit haphazard in the past but we want to have that seamless transition."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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