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'The nines is definitely my proudest rugby league moment'

When Trent Knight kicked off an annual charity nines day six years ago, he never envisaged raising more than $130,000 for charity.

In fact, at the time, the Wallumbilla-Surat Red Bulls vice-president just wanted a fun, knockabout carnival he could play in with a couple of his local mates.

Fast forward to 2020 and after financially supporting a number of Maranoa locals in need thanks to the incredible amount of money raised each year, Knight has been named this year's Queensland Rugby League volunteer of the year.

Involved in rugby league since 2004, the footy tragic followed in his family's footsteps by joining the Red Bulls as a 14-year-old.

"I got involved with the club through my family. My dad played for them and my whole family is from Wallumbilla," Knight said.

"He played for the Herefords, but in 2004 the Red Bulls started, so I started under 16s that year and have played with them ever since."

Progressing through the years, Knight made his way through the grades as a player before also giving his hand at coaching, which saw him win a title as captain / coach. 

"Yeah, I’ve actually lost more [grand finals] than I won," Knight joked.

"But in 2011, I started coaching reserve grade and did that for four years before taking a break in 2015, and then I went back for two more years in 2016.

"Then I got out of that and became vice-president at the footy club."

The Wallumbilla-Surat Red Bulls in 2016.
The Wallumbilla-Surat Red Bulls in 2016.

The way Knight ended up volunteering is quite a familiar tale in community rugby league.

"In 2010, our old president said to me… ‘why don’t you come to the meetings?’" Knight recalled.

"I said back to him… ‘why am I going to go to the meetings... there’s nothing I can do at the meetings… I can’t read and write'.

"And he said… ‘well, you’ll be coming next meeting'.

"He said at the time he was going to pick me up and I didn’t think he would, but before the meeting, he was at my house.

"After the meeting, because we’d drunken a fair few beers, he said... ‘well, I’ll see you at every meeting after this' and it just ended up being this way.

"And of course, when you end up going to meetings, you end up getting put in jobs and I guess someone has to put their hand up... so that's how I ended up in the roles I'm in now."

In 2015, Knight wanted to organise a small round-robin competition for a few local teams in the Maranoa, but a tragic passing of one of his close friends inspired him to turn the event into a charity fundraiser.

"Six years ago, I started a charity day after playing a bit of footy with one of my mates who is Indigenous," Knight said.

"He plays in an Indigenous knockout and Lee wanted me to go and play with him, but I couldn’t, so we started a little round-robin comp here in Roma just to play against the local clubs.

"It wasn’t too bad… it was just a bit of fun. We just mucked around in a couple of games and put a bit of prize money up and then one of my family friends [Kirsten Albeck] that I grew up with at Wallumbilla got crook with cancer .

"So we decided to make a charity day to try and help raise some funds for her and her partner who is one of my best mates, because they had a newborn baby and we just wanted to send them away on a holiday.

"But then sadly, she passed away a week before the day.

"So, we decided to make it a memorial day in memory of her because her dad, who is also part of the Red Bulls, is the groundskeeper for us in Wallumbilla.

Knight presenting the shield to 2020 winners, St. George.
Knight presenting the shield to 2020 winners, St. George.

"So it was nice to try and repay a bit of respect to him for everything that he has done and has gone through with his daughter’s passing.

"And honestly, he gives me a hell of a hand with the nines day every year.

"We’ve raised over $130,000 in the time we’ve been doing it over the six years.

"I only set out to do it that one day, but it ended up being so successful and such a good day that we had a little meeting with the Red Bulls (who formally hosted the day) and agreed to run it again the next year."

Not only has the event supported the Albeck family, but Knight and the club have also been able to support a number of other locals including Owen 'Bodgie' Lingard, Wayne Finn, Ethan Kirkbridge, the Beckley family and the Anderson family... just to name a few.

With a date already set for 2021 Kirsten Albeck Memorial Nines, Knight said the event was his proudest moment in rugby league.

 

Yes, we will be able to go ahead in 2021 so make sure you start getting your teams ready. We will keep you updated here...

Posted by Kirstin Albeck Memorial 9's Day on Sunday, November 22, 2020

"The nines day is definitely my proudest rugby league moment, by far," Knight said.

"Winning premierships and stuff are up there, but I’d say the charity day would definitely be my proudest.

"[Being named the QRL volunteer of the year] means a lot to me, but more that the nines day and the charity work that we’ve done throughout the time has been recognised.

"When I decided to do it, I didn’t even do it to try and get anything like this, but I guess it’s just a bit of a perk of it, as a lot of work goes into it.

"We’re still trying to make it bigger and better each year.

"It’s grown a fair bit since it began and it means so much for the town because it helps out businesses around the town and I probably wouldn’t be able to run it without the support of them to be honest... it's very much appreciated."

The 2021 Kirsten Albeck Memorial Nines is scheduled for Saturday, March 6, 2021 in Roma.