Rugby league participation in the Central region is growing quicker than the state average, serving as a nod to all those people behind the scenes enabling clubs to thrive.
We've had 23,549 people play our game in season 2023 - a 7.06 per cent increase compared to last year - and the best thing is our growth has been spread around our four areas main in Sunshine Coast, South West, Wide Bay and Central Queensland.
Our rate of increase in senior footy was marginally higher than in juniors and we're very pleased to have been able to welcome a number of past participants back on to the field.
There's still so much untapped potential out there in female competitions despite a 10.75 per cent participation boost in 2023.
We particularly hope to get more girls involved through fun gala days so they can spread the word about how we all know rugby league is.
Of course a massive thank you goes to the volunteers who give up their time to facilitate this participation, supporting everything from junior boys and girls to senior men and women. These selfless individuals carry a great workload and we're very thankful for that.
The work ahead was the focus for a productive QRL/NRL Central region conference involving QRL's area manager and league and club coordinators, with NRL game development staff, held at Hervey Bay last week.
We broke up into our four areas and set out on a plan for 2024 relating to activities we want to conduct in preseason, in-season and post-season to help build on our strong participation growth.
We still have a lot of work to do to bolster opportunities for female participation, while getting the Central Burnett junior league back going strong is another major focus.
Our 'game plan' is around the theme of healthy clubs and leagues all around the state, so we'll be assisting those clubs who need it most and do all we can to make life easier for those wanting to get involved, and those volunteers who will ultimately enable these clubs and communities to thrive.
All of our clubs and leagues will soon be going through transitions as AGMs take place in coming weeks, with league leaders to come together in December to vote on their representatives.
It may only be the start of November but preparations are already in full swing for our first carnival of the year, being the popular Adrian Vowles Cup in Charleville.
Outback to Maroons and beyond: Adrian Vowles
We've already got more nominations than we had earlier this year 2023 and QRL staff, led by Outback league and club coordinator Peter Rafter, will be doing all we can to support Adrian and Murweh shire mayor Shaun 'Zoro' Radnedge get everything organised.
It's not only a fantastic experience for the kids to spend time together as a team, some in their tents at the Charleville Showgrounds for the duration of the carnival, but it's also huge for the local economy.
It's going to be another long off-season and we can't wait to satisfy that itch for players hungry to get on the field in 2024.