They historically punch above their weight on the field – and now the Bowen Seagulls are leading the way off it.
Determined to get rugby league back up and running following the suspension of community sport, Seagulls volunteers have devised their own ‘Return to Play’ plan in line with the proposed Queensland Rugby League protocols.
It is this enthusiasm that will give the Seagulls a fighting chance of playing footy again in 2020, according to QRL northern region manger Scott Nosworthy.
“They have a genuine want to get back on the rugby league field, and are moving heaven and earth to do that,” Nosworthy said.
Having put together their own resources, the Seagulls are now working closely with the QRL, and have expressed a desire to share their plans with the wider rugby league community once approved.
Like many other clubs and leagues throughout the state, the Seagulls have come forward with their feedback after reviewing the QRL’s proposed “Return to Play” protocols.
With this process now complete, the QRL’s overall guidelines and detailed handbook for clubs, leagues and associations will be submitted to the Board for approval tomorrow.
Given the unprecedented public health situation, it remains to be seen if and when clubs like the Seagulls get back to playing the game they love.
But those who have been in and around the game for a while, like long-serving northern region administrator Nosworthy, know the Seagulls will be ready to strike again soon.
Just before the suspension of community sport, Nosworthy attended the Bowen Summer 10s carnival at the Seagulls’ Denison Park.
“I witnessed the passion first hand when I was at the carnival earlier this year and it was refreshing to see the amount of volunteers who were involved,” Nosworthy said.
“You could just see that they were genuinely happy to be part of it. They have just fostered a very good environment that is inclusive of everyone.”
Having previously struggled to fill teams, the Seagulls have rebounded in recent years with participation increasing from 137 players in 2017 to close to 250 this year.
The club’s own volunteers have led the revival, with terrific support from the Townsville District Junior Rugby League and QRL Northern Region.
Intrust Super Cup clubs the Mackay Cutters and Townsville Blackhawks have also been supportive of the Seagulls and the Bowen area.
The days of having very few volunteers and discussions about sending born and bred Bowen players to the neighbouring towns of Burdekin and Proserpine are long gone.
QRL northern region club support manager Kerri Ritchie has offered valuable assistance along the way.
“She’s a good communicator, she listens and she’s got an excellent rapport with all her people,” Nosworthy said.
Bowen Seagulls chairman Darren Piggott acknowledged the efforts of the club’s support network.
“Bowen JRL is a community club that has lots of terrific volunteers,” Piggott said.
“Two of our fantastic volunteers, Alicia Fletcher and Monika Piggott, have put together our 'Return to Play' plan to help to give our young players an opportunity to get back on the field.
“COVID-19 has hit the Bowen community hard like every community but we are looking forward to playing the great game of rugby league again.
“Our club was in a bad way a few years ago with dwindling numbers, no junior international teams and limited volunteers.
“However, we now we have all grades, multiples teams in some grades, girls teams and lots of new and enthusiastic volunteers which is great for a regional town like Bowen and a result of lots of hard work by all involved in the club.”