Club rugby league has wrapped up across the South East region, meaning we now turn our focus to some important carnivals celebrating different cultures in our game.
A number of our staff will be involved in the Arthur Beetson Foundation Queensland Murri Carnival (QMC) from September 22-29, then turn our attention to assisting with the Queensland Pacific Island Cultural Carnival (QPICC) from October 27-29.
These carnivals are great showpieces for the talent that we have in the game and the vehicle for change rugby league can be off the field.
Both carnivals bring together players from throughout Queensland and interstate and is a great opportunity for the players you don't get to play with week in, week out and for some it's a chance to reconnect with mates and family they've grown up with.
The QMC, being held at Redcliffe once again, is always massive, but QPICC is quickly gaining traction with interest exploding in the last five years.
This year's carnival at Bill Norris Oval, Beenleigh promises another great mix of culture and bringing together Pasifika nations and now it's tapping into the junior base, so it's great to see all age groups involved.
We're continuing to work on how best to engage with people from Indigenous and Pasifika backgrounds - who form a large proportion of participants - and have better representation of different cultural backgrounds in aspects such as refereeing and coaching, especially in female rugby league.
Elsewhere our RISE program wraps up at Logan Metro Sports Complex on Saturday, September 23 as our under 15 boys get to put what they've learnt into practice on the field at the final rebel State Development Series carnival.
RISE has been quite successful for us this, with kids of all ages and abilities learning important skills in their six-week program that will hopefully serve them well in their future endeavours on and off the field.
Later in the day these players will get a chance to watch the Queensland Under 17 City v Country boys in action at the same venue, giving them a taste of the level of football they can expect in the Cyril Connell Challenge should they wish to enter the statewide competitions pathway.
Many of the RISE participants featured in our junior finals earlier this month, with the Division 1 grand finals held successfully at Kayo Stadium.
Not everyone was a winner, but they were all thrilled to be able to play at such a venue.
It's great to have that opportunity and ability to provide our kids a chance to play on these larger stadiums and some of them will never get that opportunity to do that throughout their careers.
The Rugby League Gold Coast junior finals took place in Beaudesert, proudly presenting their facilities as some of the best in the district.
It was a great reward and recognition for the club members who travel to the coast to play every single week, and the local community showed immense support.
In the Rugby League Ipswich senior grand final day, Redbank Plains Bears won their first A grade premiership in front of one of the biggest crowds in years.
A special mention also needs to go to Springfield Panthers, who won the Volunteers Cup C grade competition.
The Panthers are only new to senior footy, but with a huge junior base and growing population behind them, we hope they can continue to develop their program and eventually join the A grade competition.
The BRL concluded with a wonderful day at Totally Workwear Stadium, with Wynnum Manly Juniors winning a high quality A grade grand final.
Both sides had a host of Hostplus Cup affiliates and Brisbane representatives players between them and we look forward to seeing that pathway get even stronger in 2024.
Back on the Gold Coast, a huge congratulations to Southport Tigers for sealing back-to-back premierships at the senior grand finals held at UAA Park.
Lastly, I'd like to thank all the QRL staff, club executives, match officials and volunteers who all made the club season so successful, facilitating rugby league for a record number of participants.
It took a lot of effort and a lot of work from all people involved to maintain those competitions, and it doesn't go unnoticed.
A shout out to the volunteers from Rugby League Ipswich who opened up the canteen to cater for and duty officials to manage the crowd that turned up to North Ipswich Reserve to watch the Australian Prime Minister's XIII squad train on Tuesday before they took off to Papua New Guinea. Around 500 people, including plenty of children on school holidays, watched on, while NRL game development staff kept them occupied with some fun activities to boot. Our RISE Ipswich participants were also able to get an up close and personal look from the sideline.