You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Mini Maroons of the year: North's little champs lift their clubs

Some of our youngest players and volunteers have shone in Queensland Rugby League's North region this year with their efforts to make the rugby league experience better for those around them.

We've revisited some of the most outstanding people featured in Mini Maroons this year to once again show off the power of those little extras - and more often than not it's nothing to do with how good a footy player they are.

Check out a few of the best below, with the help of Mt Isa/Midwest league and club coordinator Melissa Hodgetts for her take on what makes these young ones so special.

Welcoming with open arms

Reef (centre) with his teammates.
Reef (centre) with his teammates.

Reef Nicol was immersed in rugby league with his school mates when he was able to be part of the welcoming Bowen Seagulls environment. Reef, who is non-verbal and has Down syndrome, got involved in passing and kicking drills and volunteered on game day.

Melissa Hodgetts: "Not only is Reef Nicol loving being involved in football and this is great development for him, it is teaching his teammates and their families, the coaching staff and opposition about acceptance and tolerance. Some of these kids may not even realise the positive impact they are having."

Weipa wonderkid pitches in for Country Week

When the big stage arrived in Weipa, Hunter Slingo was always going to be front and centre doing anything that needed to be done. From cleaning up ahead of welcoming the Activate! Queensland Country Week teams Northern Pride and Sunshine Coast Falcons, to game day duties including set up and ball boy, he was everywhere. It's something he does throughout the year for Central Cape Suns, inspiring others to lend a hand.

Hunter (right) on ball boy duties. Photo: Rikki-Lee Arnold/QRL
Hunter (right) on ball boy duties. Photo: Rikki-Lee Arnold/QRL

Melissa Hodgetts: "I loved how Hunter gave back to his club and the league volunteering at the grounds. He is setting a great example to the younger kids in the community, showing every little bit helps."

Big-hearted Liam makes mark from sideline

Charters Towers' Liam Bartschat was one of his side's most dedicated in 2023 even after breaking his ankle early in the season. The under 13 player essentially became a member of the coaching staff, helping out the head coach Luke Purcell and providing plenty of encouragement at training and games, which he rarely missed.

Melissa Hodgetts: "It would have been very easy for Liam to give up on football as he couldn’t play, but the boost he gave his team while he was out with his broken leg shows his passion for football and his team. It gave Liam another side and aspect of the game helping from the sidelines."

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.

Platinum Partners

View All Partners