The Glyn Rees City Country Cultural Exchange was held at Coolum Rugby League grounds on the Sunshine Coast over the weekend.
This year, there are a record number of teams participating from Under 13s to Under 16s while Under 18s were been included for the first time.
As well as the Queensland Outback teams (consisting of players from Mt Isa in the north to Quilpie and Mitchell in the south), other participating teams come from Kingaroy, Emerald, Chinchilla, Brisbane and Warwick.
A total of nearly 500 players participated and they all stayed in camp over the weekend.
A squad of 18 of our state’s top up-and-coming referees officiated the event.
There was a big crowd in attendance for the weekend which has now become one of the highlights of the Sunshine Coast rugby league calendar.
Sportsmanship on show at the carnival - helping an opposition player off the field.
This year, we have also been fortunate to have generous sponsorship provided for the carnival by The Maintenance Company, based on the Sunshine Coast and The Arthur Beetson Foundation.
The QRL and the Queensland Police Service have formed a partnership to help youths in the Outback areas and in the rest of Queensland make choices regarding careers in the QPS.
Over the weekend, members of the QPS Stock Squad and Recruiting attended with a display and were ready to answer any questions people may have about joining the Service.
Queensland Rugby League chairman Peter Betros and Managing Director Rob Moore were in attendance over the weekend.
“The big state of origin win for Queensland has these boys really fired up,” Betros said.
“Travelling to the coast for this event is an incredible opportunity to experience a taste of representative football for these outback boys.
“There is some exciting talent down here, these boys they love their rugby league and they wouldn't miss an opportunity like this for quids.”
This carnival is unique especially considering the ages of the teams in that there is no scoring or awards for player of the carnival, it is about participation and giving players an opportunity to play in a level higher than they would on a weekly basis at home.
The atmosphere that is created at this carnival is like nothing you would experience at any other.
There is no yelling at the officials only encouragement for the players.
Every year this carnival brings up stories – like that of the Outback Under 18 team who attended the Melbourne Storm Under 20s game at the Kawana Stadium. These kids don’t like sitting around doing nothing, so four of the boys found a job as ball boys for the game.
There are many friendships formed over this weekend with many players swapping rep clothing as a memory of the weekend.
Education is also part of the weekend as well, with Bruce Schmidt from the Referee’s Association giving some of the players an education about pathways for referees, a better understanding of how the refs think during a game and pointers on some of the more controversial rules in our game.
The Coolum Junior Rugby League again went out of their way to be the perfect hosts again with nothing too much trouble for them in helping all teams enjoy the experience.
Plans are already in place to make this carnival even bigger in 2017.
Winners of the Outback Raffle:
1st Prize trip for two to New Zealand plus $100 spending money: Paul Fitzgerald
2nd Prize 2015 signed State of Origin jersey: Emma Lynch