Cloncurry is once again the venue for the Arthur Beetson Foundation Outback Junior Carnival being held this weekend - last playing host to the popular event in 2017.
This carnival was originally scheduled for 2020, but was deferred due to COVID-19 and with sport now getting back to some sort of normality within the region, the Cloncurry Shire Council and Queensland Rugby League have worked tirelessly to ensure the event goes ahead as originally planned.
This year will see the Outback Junior Carnival celebrate its 10th anniversary, with the inaugural event held at Winton in 2011.
The carnival is an important pathway for many aspiring young footballers and it is indeed fitting that an icon of Outback, Queensland and Australian rugby league in Arthur Beetson has his name attached to the annual event.
This year, it has received unprecedented financial support from the Cloncurry Shire Council and the area they represent. Many local businesses have stepped forward to partner with Council to ensure the successful delivery of the carnival.
QRL North manager Scott Nosworthy said the support the carnival had received proved how much events like the Outback Junior Carnival mean to the local community.
"These events have a significant impact on regional communities and the partnership with Council and the support they have received from local businesses reinforce their commitment to seeing events of this scale delivered in their region," Nosworthy said.
The age groups participating will be under 14 and 16 boys and under 14 and 17 girls, which will bring together more than 150 players and their team officials.
The Queensland Police Service and QRL have once again joined forces to promote the opportunities in country Queensland for both young men and women.
The service faces challenges in the attraction and retention of police officers and support staff in rural and remote communities and see an opportunity at this event to recruit people from the bush to work in the bush.
This carnival is also a breeding ground for many young players who reach higher levels. North Queensland Cowboys and Queensland Maroons forward Coen Hess played as a 15-year-old at the inaugural carnival in 2011.
The Northern Outback teams are mainly made up of Mount Isa-based players who compete in City v Country junior concept, as well as Cloncurry and Normanton players.
Southern Outback teams are selected from players from the townships of Winton, Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Charleville, Cunnamulla, Augathella, Mitchell and Roma.
Carnival special guests include former Queensland greats Renae Kunst and Stephanie Hancock, North Queensland Cowboys legend Matt Scott, Queensland Outback junior coaching mentor Wayne Smith and FOG #118 and current Mount Isa local John Doyle.
The weekend’s proceedings begin on Friday evening with a welcome barbecue and wellbeing and education session with QRL staff and Queensland Police Service recruitment officers.
Saturday then brings a feast of football to the Eddie Lee Field as games kick off at 8am.
A feature of this year's carnival on the Saturday afternoon will be the Outback Ladies Challenge game which features players from Cloncurry and Mount Isa against Hughenden and Normanton.
This matchup will serve as a selection process for the Northern Outback representative women’s team, who will face off against Southern Outback at Blackall on June 12 for selection in the Queensland Outback women’s team to play against North Queensland United at Tully on July 17.
Selectors will also be identifying Normanton women from these games for the United side.
At the end of the carnival, the Queensland Outback teams will be announced to attend the Rees / Orman City-Country Cultural Exchange Carnival at Coolum Beach on Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27.
Cloncurry Outback Junior Carnival
Saturday, May 15
|8am||Under 14 Boys||Northern Outback v Southern Outback|
|9.05am||Under 14 Girls||Northern Outback v Southern Outback|
|10am||Under 17 Girls||Northern Outback v Southern Outback|
|11.05am||Under 16 Boys||Northern Outback v Southern Outback|
|12.15pm||Under 14 Boys||Northern Outback v Southern Outback|
|1.20pm||Under 14 Girls||Northern Outback v Southern Outback|
|2.20pm||Open Women's||Mount Isa District v Mid West|
|3.40pm||Under 17 Girls||Northern Outback v Southern Outback|
|4.45pm||Under 16 Boys||Northern Outback v Southern Outback|
Sunday, May 16
|9.45am||Open Women's||Mount Isa District v Mid West|