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Mini Maroons: Normanton trio 'just little champions'

Normanton teens Travis Mitchell, Donald Douglas and Sydney Toby exemplified what rugby league is all about at the recent Gulf Cluster grand final day.

The trio helped officiate the under 9 and under 12 games, played in the under 15 games themselves and then helped during the men's and women's grand finals.

Queensland Rugby League Mackay, Mt Isa and Mid West area manager Jade Johnson said she was able to rely on the boys to referee and touch judge to help make sure all games went ahead - with lots more registering than anticipated. 

More than 100 children from Normanton, Mornington Island and Doomadgee - with "smiles from ear to ear" - turned out for the day, many of them having travelled long distances to get there to play.

"It was just beautiful," Johnson said.

Travis Mitchell, Donald Douglas and Sydney Toby.
Travis Mitchell, Donald Douglas and Sydney Toby.

"They were really great role models. They went above and beyond to help throughout the whole day. They were just little champions.

"The Gulf has an exciting future with kids like this contributing."

The day - "an amazing day for all" - wrapped with the men's and women's grand finals. 

Doomadgee defeated Normanton in the women’s and Normanton Stingers were crowned men's  A Grade champions.

Twins chalk-and-cheese but love rugby league

Fourteen-year-old twins Jack and Clinton Jessen love rugby league and love the Western Lions - they love playing, they love officiating, love running water and helping out wherever they can. 

Mum Charlotte Lessen said an average weekend for the boys, who had been at Western Lions since under 8s, saw them play, run water for their 11-year-old brother's team and more often than not, any other team that needed help.

"If they're short on water runners, they'll volunteer to run water or they'll volunteer to be a touchie if there's teams playing who need a touchie or ball boy," Lessen said, adding they also did this for different school competitions in Townsville.

"They love it. They're chalk-and-cheese, absolute opposites, but they both love rugby league.

"And they're always willing to put their hands up if they know people in another team, even if they don't know people, they're always willing to put their hands up to help out when people need help.

"For home games they both volunteer, running the gate entry and in the canteen as well."

Four Mackay teens help out 

Four Wanderers under 16 girls players - Cianna Faulkner, Courtney Harris, Ruby Watt and Zoe Ziegelerhad - didn't think twice about helping make sure a group of eager under 12 players could have a run. 

The girls love rugby league - they all play, participated in the RISE program and had the opportunity to play in the RISE curtain raiser at the Women's State of Origin match in Townsville.

Zoe Ziegeler, Lucy McKendry, Kelsi Hazledine, Courtney Harris, Ruby Watt and Cianna Faulkner.
Zoe Ziegeler, Lucy McKendry, Kelsi Hazledine, Courtney Harris, Ruby Watt and Cianna Faulkner.

But above and beyond that, they assisted Rugby League Mackay and District's game development committee to ensure a group of younger girls could enjoy rugby league.

The committee was unable to find members to facilitate an under 12 girls session, so the four teens put their hands up to spend an hour doing drills and skills they had learnt through the RISE program with them.

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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