There are many rugby league carnivals and events run in the Outback but the Frank Fisher Cup reconciliation and police memorial event in Chinchilla was one of the best ever witnessed.
The involvement from so many areas including representatives from the Queensland Rugby League, Queensland Police Service, Queensland Ambulance Service, Anglicare, Allison Baden-Clay Foundation and recognition for National Reconciliation Week showed respect for so many areas which rugby league is so good at showcasing and making everyone aware of issues within our lives.
The weekend started on the Friday with members of the QPS Rugby League teams, NRL game development and QRL Central wellbeing operations manager Ryan Charles attending schools in Chinchilla, Miles, Tara and Jandowae.
Friday evening was a special one, with the Frank Fisher Cup dinner providing more than 200 attendees with some powerful messages.
Local traditional owner Uncle Reg set the tone for the night, and over the next day and we learnt a lot about his long history in the game as a player, coach and referee and it was an absolute honour to have had the time to listen to his stories about his life and involvement in the game.
QRL CEO Ben Ikin talked about his new role and his vision for rugby league in Queensland, but it was Eddie Monaei, co-chair of the QRL Indigenous Advisory Committee, who gave the most powerful speech.
Monaei, a descendant of the Kaurareg nation from the Torres Strait islands, spoke about the recently passed Queensland Government Path to Treaty Bill and the need for truth telling and healing to help drive reconciliation and change.
You could hear a pin drop as he spoke, such was the emotion and rawness in it as he challenged everyone in the room to be part of the truth telling and change process.
Vanessa Fowler from the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation spoke about domestic violence and what we can all do to help in any situation, Tracey O’Brien from Anglicare spoke about the family support they offer followed by QPS Rugby League president Danny Hess, who spoke about what this weekend meant to the QPS and members as we remembered those who lost their lives at Wieambilla, including Constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold, and local resident Alan Dare.
The main speaker for the evening was Wayne Bennett. We have all heard stories about how he interacts with media and from people that know him, his sense of humour.
Well he didn’t let anyone down and shared some of the most amazing and humorous stories from his amazing career from his police service days and his beginnings as a coach through to the present.
A bunch of memorabilia was auctioned off to complete the night, raising a huge profit for our charities.
Now to the footy - 12 hours of rugby league on the Saturday involving junior games up to under 16s, the QPS v Frank Fisher Invitational and Central Crows matches and then Chinchilla taking on Wallumbilla/Surat Red Bulls in 18s, Reserve Grade and A Grade.
A lot of credit must go to Chinchilla Bulldogs president Charlie Redgen and his team of hard working volunteers. The whole club must have worked for three days straight to get everything ready and the venue was looking a treat.
It was amazing to see how many people turned out for the junior games and stayed all day. There were at least 100 volunteers doing their bit for the game on the day and it showcased to us that rugby league is alive and well in the south west.
Prior to the QPS Women v Central Crows there was a very moving Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony, led by Uncle Reg, where all teams participated and had the huge crowd spellbound with respect.
To see all the teams including the Chinchilla under 16 team out on the field in a boomerang shape in front of a large crowd will stick in the memory forever. It was community, culture and the game of rugby league as one and we were so proud to be a small part of it.
The game that followed was an absolute crowd thriller with the Central Crows coming out winners 36-4. Both teams put everything into it with some amazing talent from both teams.
This was followed by the QPS Men team playing the Frank Fisher Invitational team.
This game was so close throughout the first half, but when the Frank Fisher team ran out of reserves. the QPS team ran out winners 44-20.
There are so many people to thank to make and event like this successful but one person we need to mention is Danny McGuire.
This was an idea that Danny came up with a couple of months ago and his input showed the passion he had for all those who have been honoured over the weekend.
Unfortunately, due to a recent illness, he was unable to attend, but his daughter Jamie spoke well on his behalf at the dinner.
He can be proud of the outcome and the input and respect shown by many.
No doubt Danny will be back soon fitter than ever.
A big thank you also to the sponsors who also contributed to the weekend including the Queensland Government, Western Downs Council, Country to Coast Radio, XXXX, Shell, QGC and Western Downs Civil.