The 10th annual NRL Community Awards were held in Sydney during NRL grand final week, with popular North Queensland figure George ‘Terry’ Abednego claiming the National Volunteer of the Year award.
President of the Zenadth Kes Rugby League (a five-team competition based on Thursday Island); Terry is the backbone, the heart and the soul of rugby league in the Torres Strait.
Watch || See the video of Terry’s involvement in rugby league above
Raiders fan Terry receives a jersey as a thank you for his work at the NRL Community Awards
While other Queensland nominees might not have come home with a gong – it was still an honour for them to represent their state at the highly prestigious event.
Below, we get to know a little bit more about the Queensland nominees who were in contention for awards - with a summary of their nomination brief.
Queensland nominee for Women in League Achievement Award: Renae Kunst
The Women in League Achievement Award nominee were women who have either acted as an outstanding advocate for the advancement and opportunity of women in rugby league or the advancement of rugby league generally.
Renae Kunst is no stranger to Queensland rugby league fans, having represented the state and the Australian Jillaroos on the playing field for a number of years.
Renae has also been a great advocate for girls and women in rugby league more generally.
Over the course of these past few seasons, she has been giving back to the community and sharing what she has learnt along the way on her path to representative honours.
In 2014, Renae started a schoolgirls rugby league competition in Mackay with 150 schoolgirl participants. In 2015, the number of schoolgirls skyrocketed to 300 participants.
This year, there were four Under 14 girls teams and four Under 16 girls teams playing club rugby league on a Friday night; the first time there was female participation at a club level in her area.
This led to the Mackay Cutters accommodating Under 14 and Under 16 Academy for girls this year.
Renae has also worked with clubs in the area to have a Women’s competition established.
An NRL Development Officer by day; in her time off, she is still encouraging the participation of females and people with disabilities in the game, going above and beyond her role.
Away from the playing field, she has also introduced female-oriented sport coaching, First Aid and LeagueSafe courses and also encourages female teachers to be involved with schoolgirls competitions, introducing them to coaching.
She also runs Indigenous female gala days and female and male disability participation days.
Renae has the utmost respect from all of her peers and her dedication to rugby league is second to none.
Queensland nominee for Grassroots Club of the Year: Cloncurry Eagles
Nominees consisted of clubs that have fostered participation and enjoyment at all levels of the sport, have become an integral part of their community and have shown innovation in administration.
The Cloncurry Eagles have done a lot of work to establish the club this year.
The previous club needed to be deregistered, and as a result, a new association was accredited and established off the ground.
With a new coach and committee, advertising, a change of environment at home games - this has started to encourage community to attend local games.
The club have also been involved in a number of community events with junior “come and try” days, the senior players marching in the Anzac March and Merry Muster parade.
For a lot of young people in the community, football is something that they look forward to, so it is important to Cloncurry Eagles are showing the younger generation what it means to be respectful and disciplined.
The committee has also started cheerleading, which allows girls who would like to be part of football the opportunity to be involved.
They have encouraged junior kids in the community to attend training sessions with the senior players, and many of them have been put through their League Safe and First Aid courses to assist with the A Grade side. This keeps the kids busy and involved with positive role models.
The Eagles also finished the season in the best possible way – recording a win the Mount Isa grand final.
Keep up the good work Eagles!