Former CQ NRL star launches own clothing brand
PJ MARSH has revealed his next big venture, and it involves every day Central Queensland athletes.
The former NRL superstar is giving back to the community with a range of his very own sporting wear, dubbed the Ballplaya brand.
What started as a joke between his mates when he was growing up, the term 'ball player' quickly became more than just a play off his icon Allan Langer's nickname - it became a trademark.
At the age of eight, Marsh would look up at his television screen at the legendary Langer and dream of one day becoming just like him.
"I wanted to be a ball player," Marsh said.
"It sort of progressed from there and as I got older I played a lot of touch football and my friends and I used to make a lot of jokes about 'I'm the only ball player on my team' and it just got thrown around a fair bit.
"When I got older I thought it would be cool to make some shirts up... and my friends that I kicked around with as a kid wanted some shirts and things and it sort of went from there.
"I never really did anything else with it and it's just come back again and I've just decided to make some shirts again."
Marsh always loved the word for what it meant and what that identity meant to him.
It became who he wanted to be.
In 1988, a young Marsh wrote on a piece of paper for his school's time capsule his dream that in the year 2000, he would either be playing for the NRL or be a groundsman at the stadium just so he could be close to the action.
When 2000 rolled around, a 20-year-old Marsh had begun his first season playing for the Parramatta Eels.
"I'm just a kid from Blackwater... but at the end of the day I've done what many young kids want to do and that was playing at the highest level," Marsh said.
It was a feat that saw him pull on the jerseys of a number of elite NRL clubs: the Parramatta Eels, the New Zealand Warriors and his childhood favourite club, the Brisbane Broncos.
"Central Queensland has been a breeding ground for rugby league players... we support and are so proud of anyone that comes out of the region.
"I want to support local people and give them some gear.
"We have some of the best ball players not just in Queensland but right here in Rockhampton."
Marsh is developing contacts, samples and support and is currently in the process of getting the Ballplaya brand off the ground.
However, the interest is already palpable amongst many of his family, friends and rugby league mates.
"Ballplaya hasn't kicked off yet... I'm just working on it really and learning [about the production process] as well. If anyone out there has any advice, I'm open to to things like that," Marsh said.
"I actually have the website ballplayaclothing.com and I'm going to set up a normal shop where you can buy shirts, which will be up in next month or so and hopefully we'll get it all sorted."
Ballplaya won't just be for aspiring football stars, however.
To Marsh, the brand encapsulates sport as a whole and in inclusive of all athletic realms such as baseball, soccer and basketball.
Down the track, Marsh hopes to host a Ballplaya Fun Day, and bring different sports together.
"The sky's the limit really," he said.
"I'm looking at doing some sport in the way of Ballplaya camps down the track as well where I can give them some insight on what I've learnt.
"I was coached by probably the best coaches in the NRL, Wayne Bennett, and Brian Smith and learnt so much from them.
"I am hoping to inspire people, there's obviously a means to an end. If people can purchase some Ballplaya stuff, the money I will be able to put the money straight into young kids and Ballplaya camps. That's the end goal."
When it came to the biggest highlight of his career, Marsh named playing alongside his icon Allan Langer in the 2002 State of Origin as "surreal".
"It's hard to describe. You just look around (when you're on the field) and it's weird to think 80,000 people are there to watch me play... it blows you away.
"[NRL] is a whole livelihood thing. You've got your favourite team, you get to see them every week and you've got your favourite player and I can see why people get so passionate about it."
To Marsh, the reason why Australians are so passionate about NRL is hard to pinpoint.
One thing for sure is we love our teams, the experience of watching games and sport in general.
"I loved basketball as a kid and soccer and I'd play anything," Marsh said.
"I loved sport and I think Australians do too and that's why I'm hoping the brand is going to really take off.
"I'd do anything for CQ; I'd fly home so often when I was playing to donate things back to the community and do things and I know they support me and they'll support Ballplaya.
"It'll be quite interesting to see how it all unfolds and you never know, I might try get a player like Ben Hunt to do an old Blackwater boy a favour and wear some Ballplaya gear."