The annual Glyn Rees City / Country Exchange was held at the Coolum Colts Rugby League Grounds recently, with more than 500 players making the trip to the Coast to be part of the unique event.
Under 13, Under 14 and Under 16 Boys teams travelled from the Queensland Outback, Warwick, Toowoomba, Central Highlands, Sunshine Coast and South-East Queensland; staying at camp over the weekend at either Mudjimba or Coolum, enjoying their weekend away playing footy.
This year’s carnival also saw the inclusion of an Under 14 Girls division, with teams from the Queensland Outback, Toowoomba, Central Highlands and Sunshine Coast participating for the first time.
There are no scores, player of the match awards or trophies handed out at the end of the carnival – it’s all about participation.
The carnival has different atmosphere to most, with no pressure placed on players, coaches or referees and the focus on participation makes it a far more enjoyable carnival.
Continuing the strong relationship between the Queensland Police Service and QRL, the QPS’s Rural Organised Crime Squad and Recruitment Team were in attendance with an increased number of inquiries being made by the young players and their parents about a career as a Queensland Police Officer.
A number of these inquiries were from young females who have been influenced by former Queensland and Australian captain Stephanie Hancock, who has been involved with the Queensland Junior Outback program being a serving Senior Constable herself.
Hancock also had her first coaching experience with the Under 14 Girls Outback team who responded to her coaching and played like a bunch of champions throughout the carnival.
Some of these girls had not played footy prior to this season and before this weekend, had only played two 13-a-side games.
They could not have had a better coach for their first representative experience.
It was the usual 2000+ kilometre, 30-hour journey by bus from Mount Isa to Coolum for the Outback teams, stopping at Outback towns like Cloncurry, Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall and Charleville, just to name a few, to pick up the players and coaching staff.
While on the Coast, the teams ensured they visited the beach.
As some have never seen the beach before, they all enjoyed the experience.
The players also ran out for a training session with the Sunshine Coast Falcons’ Under 20s team at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The teams also had a visit the Melbourne Storm's Dane Campbell, who informed them about what is required if they want to progress further with their footy.
A big thank you must go to the Coolum Colts Junior Rugby League club and their volunteers for helping to run the carnival so smoothly.
Special thanks also goes to Paul Oliver and his young referees who officiated the weekend.
They will have all learned and developed from the carnival much like the players.
Overall, the players themselves as well as the coaching staff and parents of these players should be extremely proud of their efforts over the weekend both on and off the field.
They have all had the time of their lives and gained memories that they’ll keep forever.
*Peter Rafter is the QRL Operations Manager covering the Queensland Outback.