Season 2022 has been a memorable one.
From the incredible story of the 18-year-old first-time coach who led the Barcaldine A-grade side to a premiership victory to the underdog tales at this year’s 47th Battalion, the Central region has had plenty to enjoy and to celebrate.
All our finals are done now, wrapping up with Toowoomba two weeks ago. We had big crowds reported to be in attendance at all venues and everyone was reportedly mostly well-behaved, which is always a pleasing thing to hear.
Good behaviour was a major focus for us in the Central region in 2022 and something that will continue into next year, especially with further awareness around the Positive Environment Program.
Now, with all those finals complete, staff are now working with leagues and clubs to be ready for AGMs to finish off the year.
After that our clubs go into hibernation for a very brief period of time to regroup for 2023.
And on that note, I’d like to thank the many volunteers throughout the region who have helped us get through 2022.
We couldn’t do what we do without them, and it’s been great to see so many Central region volunteers earn recognition this year for the hard work they’ve put in.
The Miles Devils senior rugby league club won the XXXX Community Club of the Year, Bradley Hulm - a coach from Emerald Tigers juniors – won the Ned Whisky Coach of the Year and the Walk With Me 4 Autism All Abilities Rugby League Experience based in Gin Gin took out the Auswide Bank Community Program of the Year.
I’m very proud of them for their efforts and to see the Central region heavily represented in the Queensland Rugby League’s annual awards just carries on a strong tradition over the last couple years of our clubs and volunteers being recognised at the highest level.
I also need to thank our hard-working staff, who have made rugby league a key focus for all our cities and towns.
They’ve helped deliver numerous events, which made 2022 the great season that it was.
We saw the 47th Battalion carnival where Rockhampton won the men’s division for the first time.
It was great to see another league pop up to challenge the usual heavyweights in Toowoomba and Sunshine Coast. Bundaberg weren’t far behind either, coming in as runners-up, so it proves the strength of the carnival and competition.
In the women’s draw, Toowoomba in the South West were far too strong, putting in outstanding performances across the weekend.
This year we also saw the resurrection of our Wide Bay women’s competition. This was a definite highlight and, in my view, it will just go from strength-to-strength in 2023 and onwards.
The Wide Bay Bulls are also going to be incorporated and become a standalone club in the area, which is really encouraging to see.
This will allow a separate committee to drive those statewide competition teams.
And at the statewide level, 2022 was one of our best yet.
We saw the Central Queensland Capras exceed expectations at all levels and that extraordinary effort saw them get awarded the club championship at the QRL awards, as well as both our Hostplus Cup and BMD Premiership mentors, Lionel Harbin and Amanda Ohl, taking out coach of the year for their respective competitions.
The performances of the Sunshine Coast Falcons can’t go unnoticed either after they ran second overall in this year’s Hostplus Cup finals, making it through to the preliminary finals.
We’re also very excited to add to our Central presence next year, when the Toowoomba Clydesdales return to the state league in 2023.
It’s long been a nursery for state and national players for many, many years.
And finally, in 2022, we saw our Outback program continue to provide great results for all players in these areas - men and women, boys and girls - who struggle to get regular rugby league and who have to go over and above in order to play our game.
Because, really, this is what we all work so hard for. Finding ways for everyone to take part in the game and strengthening those opportunities into the future.
I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store.