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'He was my hero': Cherbourg team to honour great at Bunyas carnival

Everyone involved in rugby league is eager to get on the field at this time of year, but it’s all the more meaningful for Paddy Alberts as he prepares to lead his team at the Sunshine Coast Bunyas carnival this weekend.

The Winston Alberts Memorial Team will honour his father, who died two years ago after a life loving the game, mentoring others, and enjoying the spoils of victory.

Much of the team taking part at Nambour will be relatives of Winston Alberts, mixed with other Cherbourg players who learnt so many skills from him.

Paddy said it was always the goal to honour him at a cultural carnival such as this one, but it has now taken on extra significance in his healing mission after his partner Rochelle Davidson, who played a vital role in making it happen, tragically passed away last month.

But it only reinforced the desire for the team to come together.

“Just recently I lost my partner and she was a big part of this team, she helped me put this team together with me for my dad, and I lost her and it shook the community up a bit,” Paddy said.

Paddy Alberts in the specially designed jersey for the Sunshine Coast Bunyas carnival.
Paddy Alberts in the specially designed jersey for the Sunshine Coast Bunyas carnival.

“I got around the boys and spoke about how passionate (Rochelle) was about it. She was a big Cherbourg supporter… and would just be there for me and my friends to support us all.

“She was so excited for it and couldn’t wait to see all the boys in action. We’re going to come down and put on a show.

“It’s about having pride in ourselves and where we come from, and our community.

“It’s something that’s important to everyone to be in a team to represent where they come from, their family, their background and their history, but for me personally, my father was a passionate Cherbourg man and played for Cherbourg Hornets all his life and I wanted to honour him in this way.

“He played for the club for years, won grand finals and always supported me and the rest of the Cherbourg boys, no matter where we travelled.

“He had an impact on a lot of young people around me and my brother, we all stayed under the same roof and he always spoke about how passionate he was and his mates was for the game and how they became strong and travelled around and won games.

“He was my hero. He was a big inspiration.”

Paddy wishes he was blessed with the speed of his father, who scored tries for fun as a speedy winger, and will instead get to work in the forwards over the weekend.

But his dad’s spirit will be in the jersey they wear, bringing back the old Hornets ‘V’ design with an added stripe of sky blue in honour of his partner, and on the back, a heartfelt slogan: ‘We play for our community – past, present and future’.

“I designed it with (Rochelle) and help from my three sons, so it’s a big part of me, my children and my partner,” Paddy said.

While the Cherbourg boys will be motivated, they will have plenty of competition when the carnival fixtures kick off on February 10 following a Welcome to Country and Masters All Stars the night prior.

Coastal Blacks will be out to defend their title from the Bunyas carnival, while other teams from across southern Queensland will be looking to make their mark, including one from as far away as Cunnamulla.

Teams will be looking to take home the inaugural Shannon Chilly Shield, named in honour of Uncle Shannon Chilly, a valued member of the Aboriginal community on the Sunshine Coast and a founding member of the Gubbi Gubbi Dance Troupe who passed away in 2023.

Key information

What: Sunshine Coast Bunyas rugby league carnival

When: February 9-11

Where: Nambour Crushers Junior Rugby League Club


Friday, February 9

6.30pm: Welcome to Country

7pm: Masters All Stars Shannon Chilly Shield – Indigenous Masters All Stars v Sunshine Coast Masters All Stars (featuring former Sunshine Coast Falcons and NRL players)

8.30pm: Fireworks

Entry: Gold coin donation

Saturday, February 10

Matches running from 9am to 5pm

Teams: Winston Alberts Memorial Team (Cherbourg), Coastal Blacks (Brisbane, 2022 champs), North Coast Cowboys (Tweed), Undumbi Connections (Sunshine Coast), SWQ Mandana (Toowoomba), Cunnamulla Connections (Cunnamulla), Koori Brothers United (Sydney), Akeem Davidson Memorial Team (Caboolture), Sunshine Coast Bunyas and more

Entry: Adults $10, Children (16 and under) and aged pensioners free

Sunday, February 11

Semi-finals from 9am

Final at 12.15pm

Entry: Adults $10, Children (16 and under) and aged pensioners free

Further carnival updates to be provided on Sunshine Coast Bunyas’ Facebook page.

Main image: Members of the Winston Alberts Memorial Team. Paddy Alberts (holding the ball) flanked by his teammates.

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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