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Making history: Littleboy's whirlwind at the helm in Rockhampton

It's fair to say Shannon Littleboy's landmark appointment to take charge of Rockhampton's biggest junior club has been more than a whirlwind since taking up the post 15 months ago.

Voted in as the Brethren's first female president in more than 100 years of operation, the outgoing club secretary was full of exuberance to relish the leadership opportunity after learning the ropes during previous seasons.

"It was pretty exciting," Littleboy said of her initial appointment in November 2019.

"I was the secretary for a couple of years before I stepped up into the president role, so I got to see the background of things before I did step up.

"We had people move from the club and someone had to do it and I thought... 'I may as well step up and give it a go'. I had a friend who was willing to take over as secretary and we thought… 'let’s give it a go and see what we can do'."

But after making history, turmoil struck when the COVID-19 pandemic hit - a 'what if' the experienced administrator had never considered when putting her hand up.

"We thought we had everything sorted and the season had started. I think we played five rounds of footy before the pandemic hit and unfortunately, we didn’t return back to playing football last year," Littleboy said.

"It was one of those things I definitely didn’t think ‘what if’ would happen, so it’s been a big whirlwind and to an extent, it’s still a… ‘where are we going’.

"We’ve only had one round of footy up here so far and it’s still a little bit up in the air [brought on by the uncertainty of COVID-19].

"No sponsorship money has been rolled over for us this year and money is going to our biggest challenge because sponsors are doing it tough as everyone else is.

"It’ll be interesting to see how we come out of it at the end of the year."

But despite the concerns, Littleboy is optimistic of the future with the beef capital savouring the return of rugby league.

The Rockhampton JRL season kicked off on Friday night. Photo: Amanda Pearce
The Rockhampton JRL season kicked off on Friday night. Photo: Amanda Pearce

"Once we kicked back into this year, heaps of people were happy and even though our [mini/mod] juniors don’t kick off until after Easter, we’re getting plenty of emails and questions about when they’re kicking off and if they’re still kicking off," Littleboy said.

"And we’re extremely lucky to have as many teams as we do in the internationals.

"Games between our blue and white teams kicked-off our season at Brothers [last Friday] which always provides a good little battle between each other.

"The boys loved being back and loved seeing their mates back."

Along with seeing the boys grow, a passion of Littleboy's is on and off-field female participation in rugby league and she is hoping to help strengthen the women's game in Central Queensland.

"My big passion is women in league and getting the girls rugby league up and running here in Rocky," Littleboy said.

"Unfortunately, it’s not a very strong point up this way and being a female trainer myself, I’m really trying to encourage more females to get involved in league... even becoming a trainer or stuff like that.

"We’re trialling a development program with the 13-year-old girls up here and are hoping for a 15s and 17s competition.

"We don’t have a lot of girls who come through the junior six to 12 grades. We only get a handful and then they hit high school and are lost to the game.

"We’re trying to work out whether they’re too scared to step up to the bigger girls [age groups] or why they drop off... so we’re just going to trial some things this year and try to get some more girls involved.

"We’ve got a couple of the Capras women that are willing to jump onboard to host a few afternoon sessions with them and hopefully that integration will rope a few girls in."

Littleboy is also hoping to continue the Brethren's family mantra into 2021, a huge aspect the welcomed return of rugby league brought back to the club as they congregated at Victoria Park for the first time in over 11 months.

Brothers Blue faced off against White in Round 1 of the Rockhampton JRL season. Photo: Amanda Pearce
Brothers Blue faced off against White in Round 1 of the Rockhampton JRL season. Photo: Amanda Pearce

"It was just a great atmosphere having all our footy family back together again," Littleboy said.

"We’re a big family club so it was great to see aunties and uncles and all the siblings again running around.

"It was truly great."