The annual Glyn Rees City / Country Cultural Exchange was held last month (Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25) at Coolum Beach, with teams competing from Brisbane, Ipswich, Warwick, Western Downs, Benderoo/Mitchell, the Sunshine Coast and the Queensland Outback.
There was also the Under 18 Sunshine Coast Indigenous team, organised and coached by Brad Beetson, who played against the Under 18 Queensland Outback team in an exhibition match.
Once again, the boys from the Outback made the epic journey south to play.
The boys from Normanton left home on Tuesday to meet up with the bus leaving Cloncurry at 4am on Wednesday and collected players on the way through, before stopping at Charleville for dinner and to watch the mighty Maroons defeat New South Wales in Game 2 of State of Origin.
The boys were then straight back on the bus to get to Coolum for lunch on Thursday.
During their stay, the boys went to the beach, some for the first time, as well as visiting the local shopping centres where the number of shops would outnumber the population in some of their home towns.
The players from the Sunshine Coast Falcons Under 20s Colts team gave the Outback players an insight into what is required at the next level by allowing them to participate in their training session.
The players and coaching staff certainly benefited and picked up a few new ideas.
This year, both Brad Beetson and Mal Meninga visited the carnival and were swamped by many - but still had time to speak to the Queensland Outback boys.
They explained that rugby league is not just about how you play the game, but also about the type of person you are and that your attitude to life is just as important as developing your footy skills.
Mal Meninga addressing the Queensland Outback boys.
The carnival, which caters for Under 13, Uner 14, Under 16 and Under 18 boys age groups, is run without any scores being recorded or any awards presented.
Players are in attendance for participation, to have fun and just play footy.
There were many comments passed over the weekend about the atmosphere and attitude of the players which is often contributed to the way the carnival is run.
It was also a fantastic opportunity for the young referees who officiated the matches to learn and develop.
The Queensland Police Service Recruitment and Stock Squad were in attendance to pass on information for those interested in being in the Police Service.
Current serving Police Officer and Australian Jillaroo Stephanie Hancock was also in attendance helping with the recruitment and was also on hand to sign autographs for her many admirers.
A huge thank you must go to the Coolum Colts Junior Rugby League club for hosting the event.
The carnival runs so smoothly and seamlessly without any problems and is a testament to their dedicated number of volunteers.
A special thanks must also go to the QRL and Central Division for their continued support in allowing the young and upcoming rugby league players from the country experience city life and play footy at the beach.
It truly is an amazing experience for the kids from the bush and a memory they’ll treasure forever.