The Under 14 Central Outback Challenge took place in St George recently with players from across regional Queensland taking part.

Rugby league loving kids from across the regions are able to have fun and play some competitive games. Find out more here: Friendships made at Outback Carnival

This is one of the opportunities these kids get to play, but it takes a big commitment from them and rugby league staff and volunteers to make things happen.

The QRL’s Queensland Outback Operations Manager in Central Division Peter Rafter caught up with a few players to find out more about their rugby league journey.

PLAYER PROFILE – Ben McKellar

Ben McKellar is 14 years of age born in Toowoomba and has lived in Quilpie for the past five years with his aunty and attends the Quilpie State College. 
Before 2016, Ben had only played local touch and soccer as well as competing in the 2015 State 100m sprint Championships. 
Early this year when Ben and two of his mates were walking down the street in Quilpie, Kara Marsh, secretary of the local Quilpie Magpies Rugby League pulled up and asked the boys if they wanted to play rugby league with the Charleville Under 14 team (Charleville is 200kms away). 
The three boys thought they would give it a go, but Ben is the only one of the three was able to continue through the season. 
Ben can’t train with the team, so he trains weekly with the Quilpie A Grade team. 
For Ben to play with the Charleville team, he takes a return bus into Charleville. 
Ben’s Charleville coach Norm and manager Tracey often drop the team off at Charleville after driving up to 600kms home and would drive Ben home the extra 200kms before themselves returning back home to Charleville. 
Tracey said shrugging her shoulders as if it was nothing special, “it’s what you do for the kids out here.”
I saw Ben play his first game in Miles and thought this kid goes alright, but was a bit shy.
Later I learnt it was his first ever game of rugby league. 
Ben mentioned that before his first game he was “pretty nervous but had fun, I am learning from each game.
I really enjoy the games and we are really looked after and fed well.”
Over the next few rounds of the Central Outback Challenge, you could see the improvement in Ben every game. 
Ben was selected in the Southern Outback team after only six games of footy to participate in the Outback Muster carnival in Winton where the Under 14 Queensland Outback team was selected. 
Ben impressed at these trails and was selected in the Queensland Outback team to go to Coolum for the City Country Cultural Exchange.  
Ben enjoyed his trip to Coolum with the team with his favourite part being “the games and the training drills with the Sunshine Coast Falcons.”
Rugby league is at times a day out taken for granted by a lot of participants, but Ben’s story is only one of many similar situations where players in the outback take every opportunity they are given and with the help of so many are able to participate in a game that they love. 
Ben’s dream is to follow his footy to “wherever it will take me”.  


Ben McKellar (left) and Mikey Wilde are two Outback kids enjoying rugby league.

PLAYER PROFILE:  Mikey Wilde

Mikey is 14 years of age and born in Mt Isa where he played one season of rugby league as an 11 year old. 
His family then moved to Boulia where there are no organised rugby league teams, but he still played with his mates in the back yard, school yard or anywhere he could kicking, chipping, stepping and running the footy. 
This year, in order for Mikey to further his education, he had to leave his family behind in Boulia to attend high school in Barcaldine.
The bonus for Mikey is that there is some organised footy in Barcaldine, so he put his hand up and has participated in the 2016 Central Outback Challenge.
The teams have five rounds in different locations in the Queensland Outback involving three games each round and a lot of travel, some players in the team travelled over 11,000kms this year including a trip to Coolum.
When asked about his first game in the Outback Challenge Mikey said, “I thought it would be hard and it was, but I just got in there and played.”
His thoughts on the Outback Challenge - “We get to travel everywhere and the coaching staff are fun.”
As you can tell, Mikey is a young man of few words but to the point.
He was a standout for the five rounds during the Outback Challenge culminating in him being chosen as the Central Outback Challenge Central West Player of the Year. 
Mikey also played the Outback Muster Carnival in Winton where the Under 14 Queensland Outback team was selected. 
Mikey was selected at halfback and then made the trip to Coolum to participate in the City Country Cultural Exchange.
Even though he was surprised to be selected in the Queensland Outback team, he totally enjoyed the trip to Coolum.
“(I) just loved the footy and training with the big fellas (Sunshine Coast Falcons Under 20s),” Mickey said.
However, his thoughts on the Coolum Beach were not as glowing – “Nah, too salty.”
I first came across Mikey in 2015 when I toured Birdsville, Boulia area with Rod Dahl from the NRL and Queensland Health.
There was this young kid who was doing the drills Rod had set up and was doing them with ease so a tougher drill was set up to test this young student.  Again he completed the tasks with ease.
in 2016 we returned and asked the teachers where this young student had gone. 
After a short conversation, we realised that the young student who was wowing us in 2015 was Mikey Wilde who had since moved to Barcaldine.  

Outback kids profiles:

The Under 14 Central Outback Challenge took place in St George recently with players from across regional Queensland taking part.

Rugby league loving kids from across the regions are able to have fun and play some competitive games. Find out more here: Friendships made at Outback Carnival

This is one of the opportunities these kids get to play, but it takes a big commitment from them and rugby league staff and volunteers to make things happen.

The QRL’s Queensland Outback Operations Manager in Central Division Peter Rafter caught up with a few players to find out more about their rugby league journey.

PLAYER PROFILE – Ben McKellar

Ben McKellar is 14 years of age born in Toowoomba and has lived in Quilpie for the past five years with his aunty and attends the Quilpie State College. 
Before 2016, Ben had only played local touch and soccer as well as competing in the 2015 State 100m sprint Championships. 
Early this year when Ben and two of his mates were walking down the street in Quilpie, Kara Marsh, secretary of the local Quilpie Magpies Rugby League pulled up and asked the boys if they wanted to play rugby league with the Charleville Under 14 team (Charleville is 200kms away). 
The three boys thought they would give it a go, but Ben is the only one of the three was able to continue through the season. 
Ben can’t train with the team, so he trains weekly with the Quilpie A Grade team. 
For Ben to play with the Charleville team, he takes a return bus into Charleville. 
Ben’s Charleville coach Norm and manager Tracey often drop the team off at Charleville after driving up to 600kms home and would drive Ben home the extra 200kms before themselves returning back home to Charleville. 
Tracey said shrugging her shoulders as if it was nothing special, “it’s what you do for the kids out here.”
I saw Ben play his first game in Miles and thought this kid goes alright, but was a bit shy.
Later I learnt it was his first ever game of rugby league. 
Ben mentioned that before his first game he was “pretty nervous but had fun, I am learning from each game.
I really enjoy the games and we are really looked after and fed well.”
Over the next few rounds of the Central Outback Challenge, you could see the improvement in Ben every game. 
Ben was selected in the Southern Outback team after only six games of footy to participate in the Outback Muster carnival in Winton where the Under 14 Queensland Outback team was selected. 
Ben impressed at these trails and was selected in the Queensland Outback team to go to Coolum for the City Country Cultural Exchange.  
Ben enjoyed his trip to Coolum with the team with his favourite part being “the games and the training drills with the Sunshine Coast Falcons.”
Rugby league is at times a day out taken for granted by a lot of participants, but Ben’s story is only one of many similar situations where players in the outback take every opportunity they are given and with the help of so many are able to participate in a game that they love. 
Ben’s dream is to follow his footy to “wherever it will take me”. 

Outback kids profiles:

The Under 14 Central Outback Challenge took place in St George recently with players from across regional Queensland taking part.

Rugby league loving kids from across the regions are able to have fun and play some competitive games. Find out more here: Friendships made at Outback Carnival

This is one of the opportunities these kids get to play, but it takes a big commitment from them and rugby league staff and volunteers to make things happen.

The QRL’s Queensland Outback Operations Manager in Central Division Peter Rafter caught up with a few players to find out more about their rugby league journey.

PLAYER PROFILE – Ben McKellar

Ben McKellar is 14 years of age born in Toowoomba and has lived in Quilpie for the past five years with his aunty and attends the Quilpie State College. 
Before 2016, Ben had only played local touch and soccer as well as competing in the 2015 State 100m sprint Championships. 
Early this year when Ben and two of his mates were walking down the street in Quilpie, Kara Marsh, secretary of the local Quilpie Magpies Rugby League pulled up and asked the boys if they wanted to play rugby league with the Charleville Under 14 team (Charleville is 200kms away). 
The three boys thought they would give it a go, but Ben is the only one of the three was able to continue through the season. 
Ben can’t train with the team, so he trains weekly with the Quilpie A Grade team. 
For Ben to play with the Charleville team, he takes a return bus into Charleville. 
Ben’s Charleville coach Norm and manager Tracey often drop the team off at Charleville after driving up to 600kms home and would drive Ben home the extra 200kms before themselves returning back home to Charleville. 
Tracey said shrugging her shoulders as if it was nothing special, “it’s what you do for the kids out here.”
I saw Ben play his first game in Miles and thought this kid goes alright, but was a bit shy.
Later I learnt it was his first ever game of rugby league. 
Ben mentioned that before his first game he was “pretty nervous but had fun, I am learning from each game.
I really enjoy the games and we are really looked after and fed well.”
Over the next few rounds of the Central Outback Challenge, you could see the improvement in Ben every game. 
Ben was selected in the Southern Outback team after only six games of footy to participate in the Outback Muster carnival in Winton where the Under 14 Queensland Outback team was selected. 
Ben impressed at these trails and was selected in the Queensland Outback team to go to Coolum for the City Country Cultural Exchange.  
Ben enjoyed his trip to Coolum with the team with his favourite part being “the games and the training drills with the Sunshine Coast Falcons.”
Rugby league is at times a day out taken for granted by a lot of participants, but Ben’s story is only one of many similar situations where players in the outback take every opportunity they are given and with the help of so many are able to participate in a game that they love. 
Ben’s dream is to follow his footy to “wherever it will take me”.