Mini Maroons is the weekly round-up of the amazing things kids are doing in community rugby league.
This week we are celebrating juniors joining forces with seniors in Ipswich, the kids of Cooktown travelling hours for their first games of the year, and an under 15s team going out of their way to help others in Gladstone.
QRL South East
Three weeks of no footy has not been an easy ask for juniors across the South East.
With the recent downpours across the state, rugby league has had to be cancelled or postponed in an attempt to keep players safe and fields intact.
But Ipswich’s Swifts RLFC found a way to incorporate their juniors over the weekend, to boost morale for their sidelined youngsters.
After a getting a call up late on Friday to host an A grade match on Saturday, plus their own clash with Goodna – originally an away game – on the Sunday, Swifts juniors president Vickie Ison recruited a group of juniors to lead the seniors onto the field.
Ison said it was something they had introduced this year in a bid to strengthen the ties between their juniors and seniors.
Usually she has a specific age group picked out for the task, but given the short notice of the home game, she scrambled to find kids – and they responded with enthusiasm.
“As soon as you send out a text, the responses come in and the kids want to run out with the team and they really look forward it,” Ison said.
“It shows the club coming together, 100 per cent. The kids get to wait at the sheds for the players to come out, we encourage the parents to come along, and they all love it.
“We had a few different kids who got to do it for the first time. They all love playing their part.”
Ison said she came up with the idea to not only create more of a family environment at the club, but to give the kids local role models.
And, as fullback Godfrey Okot knows, it’s working.
“We’re trying to create a situation where our senior players are the ones for our juniors look up to,” Ison said.
“It’s about looking up to our local guys, not just the NRL players. Our fullback Godfrey is like a god at our club. The kids fight over who runs out with him every week.
“We’re trying to create a family environment and that’s for our juniors and seniors.”
The Cooktown Crocs travelled nearly three hours to play their first game of the season over the weekend.
With kids from under 7s all the way up to under 17s, 56 juniors made their way on the 255-kilometre trip out to Mossman on Saturday.
President of Cooktown JRL Teila Winton said the Crocs played in a round robin competition along with Mossman and Yarrabah, in a “Super Saturday” opening to their season.
And while it was a long day for many of the kids, Winton said they never failed to amaze her.
“They are ridiculously resilient,” Winton said.
“They were very pumped and think it’s an amazing road trip. They get up at the crack of dawn to get there by 8.30am but travelling isn’t a big deal for a lot of them … they do it quite regularly.
“They love it. It’s all they want to do. Some of the kids only signed up the Thursday before we went away. It’s really exciting for them to play different people and not against their same teammates. They learn so much from the other teams.
“The kids make you a smile. They’re more resilient than we give them credit for.”
Winton said it took a lot of coordination to get their club to an away game, with half of the Cooktown Crocs’ parents carpooling and some families staying the night in Mossman to break the trip up.
The Cooktown Memorial RSL also made a donation to the club this year to help reimburse families for travel and accommodation.
“It gets as many kids to play as possible,” Winton said.
The Cooktown Crocs play every two to three weeks, with their next match at home on June 11.
The Gladstone’s Wallaby Rugby League Club under 15s are proving to be true clubmen, not just on the field, but off it.
Four of their players - Trae Commins, Gav Wilson-Tyers, Kieran Johnston and Jackson Byrne – helped out in the club’s canteen over the weekend, as the Wallaby RLC played host to a number of other teams.
They were in the canteen right up until it was time to leave for their own game, which was at another venue.
Club secretary Shauna Gallagher said they played a number of roles within the canteen, as they helped out Gav’s mum, Pani.
“A few of them may get dragged there but it’s their choice to stay there,” Gallagher said.
“They were serving, using the EFTPOS, doing the cash, cooking at one stage … I was standing outside watching them and they worked that whole place by themselves. They were cooking on barbecues, deep frying chips, cleaning up as they went.
“It teaches them a lot more respect for their club and what we work hard for.
“They learn through this and learnt that it’s their club. In years to come their kids will be helping as well.”
She said it’s also not a one-off for the under 15s, with a number of players having helped out in the canteen throughout the year, plus throwing their hands up in April to help the club fundraise at the annual Boyne Tannum HookUp.
Gallagher said a lot of it was driven by the team’s coach, Tim Young.
“They were unbelievable,” Gallagher said.