The Queensland Rugby League’s 2022 Auswide Bank Regional Roadshow brought out the best in the rugby league community.
The tour - which made stops in Bundaberg, Maryborough and Gympie over an action-packed three days - not only saw $22,500 raised for grassroots football in the three towns, but it generated an enormous act of goodwill after Bundaberg Rugby League donated 50 per cent of their funds to Maryborough and Gympie.
One of the driving motivations of the 2022 Auswide Bank Regional Roadshow was to support those communities and clubs which were affected by the devastating floods earlier this year, and Bundaberg did what they could to give back to the flood-hit towns of Maryborough and Gympie.
Queensland Maroons star Meg Ward was part of the tour, along with State of Origin great Sam Thaiday, with the pair engaging with fans, business leaders, schools and rugby league clubs throughout the trip.
Ward was delighted to mingle with the community – particularly the kids – but she said was blown away by the generous gestures made along the way.
“When I heard about what they’ve been through, I just thought it was amazing to be able to raise funds that will hopefully help those kids and communities get back on track a little bit,” Ward said.
“The people were awesome and it was good to meet some new faces and see how far they’ve come since the floods.
“Out in the regions, they don’t get those opportunities as much as kids in the cities. That’s what I love about the regions – the kids absolutely love you.
“Half the time they don’t know who you are but they just love seeing you out there, paying them attention. The communities are so welcoming and it’s always better when we get to do a bit of fundraising.”
More than 200 kids attended footy clinics with Thaiday and Ward, while another 1000 high school students were lucky enough to hear personal stories from the pair as part of an impactful mental wellbeing presentation.
And, beyond the $22,500 cash raised for the three areas, PUMA also donated $8000 worth of product for Maryborough, Gympie and Bundaberg.
QRL general manager of community rugby league and competitions, Glenn Ottaway, said the number of participants and the amount of money raised proved the 2022 Auswide Bank Regional Roadshow was a “huge success”.
“We are very fortunate that our game has such reach and profile,” Ottaway said.
“To be able to use this to help grow the game is important to the QRL and our partners, like Auswide Bank.
“The opportunity to take stars of the game to regional areas to engage with communities and raise money is always special, but this year had even more meaning given the impact of floods earlier in the year on the Wide Bay region.
“I am sure all communities will make good use of the money raised to support programs they deliver and make the game more accessible for all.”
Auswide Bank chief customer officer, Damian Hearne, said he was proud Auswide Bank could make a difference to the regional areas that had endured a rough start to the year.
“We know firsthand the devastation and loss the regions have been through as we have witnessed our share of floods over the years, including the recent events in Maryborough and Gympie,” Hearne said.
“To be able to host these events for Bundaberg, Gympie and Maryborough, and then raise money to go back into the community to support the game they love is really special.
“There’s an excitement and passion the regional communities have for footy so it’s important we do what we can to support young players and their local grassroots clubs.”