While their season was officially called off earlier this week following the suspension of the Cairns and District competition, the Ivanhoes club have not been idle during isolation and have instead placed a focus on building off the field.
With their plans for football will now apply to the 2021 season, the club have been doing some great things to keep their sponsors and wider community engaged, and senior team head coach Jono Zangrande could not be prouder of the way his players have embraced their new direction forward.
When things first went into lockdown mode and things started getting more uncertain, the club made a conscious decision to "put the foot forward” to try and work on what they could.
“In our club, it was probably an opportunity for us to put the hand out; but myself, the committee, the president we really wanted to do the absolute opposite to that and be more helpful to the sponsors in that period of time," Zangrande said.
“So we just put things into place. (For example) one of our sponsors, JKW All Paints ... he is a friend of mine and I visit him every now and then and I saw that his shopfront needed a bit of a tidy up; so myself and a couple of the players went out there on a Saturday morning and spent about four hours pressure cleaning and tidied up his whole shopfront, just as a thank you for being on board with us.
“It was a perfect opportunity to just give a company that helps us a hand ... and they were very, very appreciative of that.
“We extended out (offers) to everyone who sponsors us if they needed a hand to just give us a shout and I would organise it when the restrictions lifted; or look into whether it could be done on a small scale.”
While some of the work they have been doing involves physical labour, Zangrande also got his marketing cap on to help out the club’s local butcher.
“The other one was we just had an idea with Clifton Beach Butchery to get their meat packs out there amongst our club community for a start, and just put an effort in to letting people know to get out and support them and they have done really well out of it and sold a heap of these packs,” Zangrande said.
“They came back to me with a few different meat pack options and I just sort of named them, so that there would be a connection to us when the people rang up.
“It’s been a bit of fun and everyone is starting to have some barbecues (now, so) it’s fallen into place where for about a week’s worth of organising, we have helped a business go really well for that month.
“I bought a big one – the Ivan. The Ivan is our little mascot, we have a toy little knight and we call him Ivan.”
While these gestures may seem relatively small, they make a big difference, not only in the community, but for the players who are able to maintain a connection with the club moving forward.
“We can potentially be successful on the field, but just that foundation and what we build off the field is what’s super important, everyone has jumped on board with that,” Zangrande said.
“We have got a good supporter base, so everyone out at ‘the beaches’ knows about the club and it was just the perfect opportunity to stamp ourselves and say ‘hey, get on board with this club, we are going places, we are going up with everything that we are doing, as well as off the field, so that was the key point for my end, being the head coach.
“You have got an opportunity to do some good here and everyone just jumped on it.
"Our president Noel Slade has also been instrumental in getting behind ideas and being positive with everything we do.”
With restrictions now beginning to lift, some of the players have been heading out to get some physical training done together and Zangrande is hoping this will put them in a good place for a strong 2021 season.
“I was really pleasantly surprised to see that as soon as the restrictions had lifted, and they were able to train, they were down there off their own bat doing a bit just as a unit; so that for me as a head coach is what it’s all about," Zangrande said.
“So that’s what it has been all about and we have a good young squad and it’s a really good feel at the club, that’s for sure. And we will be super keen.”
The club have a few more ideas and events planned for the future to help connect their community and provide a 'thank you' to their sponsors for sticking by them and will provide updates once the rules around restrictions become clearer.
The Ivanhoes Junior Rugby League club are part of the Cairns District Junior Rugby League who will meet on Monday evening to make a decision on their season.