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Community corner: Peninsula's powerful rugby league return

Rugby league is back on the Northern Peninsula with the return of the NPA men’s competition over the weekend.

Four teams – Bamaga, Injinoo, New Mapoon and Alau – had their first matches since the outbreak of COVID-19, which sure to satisfy the appetite for the game and bring plenty of other benefits for each community.

We’ve had great support from the NPA council to get this under way because they know how many positive social benefits there are in having people engaged in rugby league. It’s a language everyone speaks.

From all reports there were massive crowds and people come from everywhere to be part of it.

This is on top of our four-team competition in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Normanton, Doomadgee and Mornington Island recently participated in the first of the monthly clusters, with Cloncurry to join them for the next cluster later this month.

The Three Rivers competition is envisioned to kick off in the next couple of weeks.

The return of the NPA competition had plenty of fanfare.
The return of the NPA competition had plenty of fanfare.

Further north, the Zenadth Kes seniors season also starts soon on Thursday Island, following what promises to be an epic Island of Origin featuring nine men’s three women’s teams on June 16-18.

Elsewhere our RISE programs in Cairns, Townsville and Mackay are rollicking along nicely and our under 15s program is about to get underway in partnership with the Northern Pride, Townsville Blackhawks and Mackay Cutters respectively, which will help light the pathway into Cyril Connell Cup squads in 2024.

Many of those who will be involved were in action at the recent under 15 Michael Morgan Cup carnival, featuring 16 boys and nine girls’ teams.

It was wonderful to see the finalists getting to play on Queensland Country Bank Stadium as a curtain raiser to the North Queensland Cowboys NRL match against Melbourne Storm.

Getting the same opportunity in coming weeks will be our All Abilities participants.

Townsville travels to Mackay on Saturday to play ahead of the Cutters, before the return leg on June 16 at QCBS before the Cowboys v Panthers NRL game.

Once again this is proof rugby league as a game without boundaries for anyone who wants to participate.

It’s part of a huge few days in Townsville, featuring the arrival into camp of the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons ahead of their deciding fixture, with a fan day on The Strand on June 17 sure to draw a crowd and encourage the community to get right behind them after a wonderful win in enemy territory last week.

Shout out

A shout out to the Mackay and District Rugby League Referees’ Association, led by Bill Lansbury, Rhonda Hook and Bob Dwyer, for facilitating practical experience for their RISE participants. In the older age groups of the program, each participant completes a referee course and getting them on the field with the whistle and the MDRLRA showed great initiative to get them involved in May to officiate in under 6s up to under 9s. They must have enjoyed it because they’ve now got 16 new referees signed on for the rest of the season.

Key dates

June 10: Mackay v Townsville All Abilities, BB Print Stadium

June 16: Townsville v Mackay All Abilities, Queensland Country Bank Stadium

June 17: Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons fan day from 1pm

Celebrating our team

Kerri Ritchie

Role: Area manager - Townsville

Hometown: Townsville

Favourite Maroons player(s): Mal Meninga and Valentine Homes

Favourite Maroons Origin moment: Probably my first ever origin game at Suncorp. The roar of the crowd and the atmosphere was amazing. Other than that it’s whenever Queensland beats NSW.

Why you love your job: I have been with QRL for 13-plus years and I love helping and supporting volunteers and clubs. It’s the people you get to work with, the relationships your build, the friendships you form and working in the greatest game of all that makes this job so special.

What Kerri brings to the team: Kerri is our longest serving employee in the QRL North team having been a passionate employee for the last 14 years. Her inclusive and welcoming nature not only sees her support the biggest league in our region, but also successfully leading initiatives in the Townsville area including female participation, Indigenous carnivals and All Abilities rugby league. She has a passion in ensuring everyone belongs and has a place in our great game.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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