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Coomera Cutters Silver won the grand final and claimed the Paul Bowman Challenge Shield. Photo: Hanny Spence

It was the biggest year ever with a record 80 Under 9 teams from across Queensland travelling to participate in the Paul Bowman Challenge held recently at Proserpine Junior Rugby League grounds.

Townsville was well represented with 20 teams, while the Mackay region featured 17.

There were eight Rockhampton teams, seven from Central Highlands and Brisbane, five from Gold Coast and Gladstone, four from Cairns, two from Central West while Mount Isa, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Mid West and Innisfail each fielded one team.

Proserpine Junior Rugby League club president Cameron Bennett said it was anticipated that more than 5000 players, families, supporters, officials and club members were in attendance for the weekend which injected life and colour into the playing fields.

Bennett said the carnival was a winner for the entire Whitsundays, with teams booking most of the accommodation from Proserpine to Airlie Beach and beyond. 

"As it is held at the beginning of school holidays, many families stay on to enjoy the beautiful Whitsundays, so this carnival provides a massive economic boost across the region," Bennett said.

"The carnival’s emphasis is on participation, the kids having fun and enjoying getting involved in sport."

The major award for the weekend is the Participation Award which was presented to Mossman Junior Sharks.

This team were down on numbers, but were able to source players the week of the carnival with some only meeting each other the day before it started.

Tate Arnold, Jehkiel Cobb and Kingston Alvoen, who proudly represented Mossman, joined forces with players from South Mackay Sharks, Fitzroy Sharks, Springsure Junior Mountain Men, Bowen Seagulls and Proserpine Whitsunday Brahmans to field a strong team and gelled well together.

This was a story of dedication from Mossman junior coach Leif Alvoen who was determined to travel with minimal players to give his regional kids a go at carnival football.

Mossman Junior Sharks won the major Participation Award at the Paul Bowman Challenge. Photo: Hanny Spence
Mossman Junior Sharks won the major Participation Award at the Paul Bowman Challenge. Photo: Hanny Spence

On Sunday, the Sam Faust Memorial Relay was run which is a fun-filled segment for players and numerous supporters.

Hundreds of children swarmed the field with Brothers Townsville Green rewarded this year for their speedy ability.

Coomera Cutters Silver and Western Lions Roar contested the grand final with Coomera running out winners by six tries to four to claim this year's Paul Bowman Challenge and the shield.

Main image: Members of the winning Coomera Cutters Silver team proudly lift the Paul Bowman Challenge Shield and their trophies. Photo: Hanny Spence