Junior league model provides great outcome for all involved
RUGBY LEAGUE: Can I take the opportunity to welcome everyone to a new season of the greatest game of all.
In this column I will concentrate on bringing to you, the readers, 'grassroots' issues that affect rugby league in the Central Queensland region.
In recent months we have heard and read volumes of information coming out of the hallowed halls of rugby league central regarding the importance of grassroots rugby league.
To date, there has been plenty of rhetoric but not a lot of new initiatives that have been announced to foster grassroots football.
While many leagues are in the middle of their pre-season competitions, the Rockhampton Junior League has commenced, with round one of their fixtures already decided.
The competition caters for young men aged between 13 and 18 years of age.
The great news for the code in Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast is that while many sports struggle to attract numbers, the Junior Rugby League competition has just welcomed Emu Park into the fold and this follows the inclusion of Capricorn Coast Brothers who will enter their sixth year in the competition.
These two clubs will compete against traditional rivals in Norths, Brothers, Fitzroys, Tigers (previously known as All Blacks) and Gracemere.
The Emu Park Club provides the opportunity for players from the southern end of the Capricorn Coast to train and play without having to travel to Yeppoon and Rockhampton.
Justin Loomans, a gentleman who has played at the highest level in rugby league, is the club's president and driving force behind the formation of this new club.
It would be fair to say that it has not been all plain sailing for the new club with the existing clubs concerned their numbers could be diminished and in some cases their viability undermined.
From what I have witnessed last week, it seems while not every club has filled their quota, numbers are very healthy at all clubs.
Any young player who wishes to register is encouraged to contact one of the above mentioned clubs.
To explain why the club competition commences so early in the year, it is important to understand the junior model that exists in Rockhampton.
Unlike many other provincial cities in Queensland, the junior league and secondary schools' competition are run separately.
Junior league runs from February until the end of May while the secondary schools run from June to September.
This model provides a great outcome for all the young men involved, and ensures they can concentrate on their club commitments before moving into the school competition.
The Queensland Rugby League administration should take a close look at the cooperation evident in Rockhampton and use this blueprint to enhance the experience of all young rugby league players throughout the state.