CQ NRL Bid chief executive Denis Keeffe and chairman Geoff Murphy.
CQ NRL Bid chief executive Denis Keeffe and chairman Geoff Murphy. Guy Williams

Regional academy new era for sport

ROCKHAMPTON is continuing on its way to becoming Australia’s premier regional sporting centre.

The CQ NRL Bid announced on Friday what many people in the region were hoping, and expecting, the organisation to do.

The organisation will form a regional education, vocation and sport academy, to be based in Rockhampton, which will foster a new era for sport and community cohesion in Central Queensland.

While the focus will be on developing NRL players, the resources will be available to all promising young sportspeople.

An NRL team in Central Queensland will run independently of the academy, but bid chairman Geoff Murphy has indicated that it would be ideal if both worked together.

“We see that as a very important component. Mind you, it is not essential,” Murphy said.

“The NRL bid will proceed regardless of the academy and, in turn, if we are fortunate with the academy, the academy can stand alone without the NRL bid.

“But, of course, both of them are great fits and we would love to see both of them together.”

The initiative is not only about developing rugby league in the region, but more about developing all-round sporting stars.

“We see it as a very important function for Central Queensland more than necessarily for the NRL bid, even though it will be advantageous,” Murphy said.

Central Queensland has an excellent track record of producing sporting talent across a range of sports, but in the past those athletes needed to move to further their careers.

The academy will ensure athletes from all regional centres have the opportunity to flourish.

“Eventually it will be for the whole of regional Queensland, not just Central Queensland,” CQ NRL Bid chief executive Denis Keeffe said.

“We’ll have probably 100 or more people attending the academy. The idea of it is to provide education and career-based activities with the view of producing a first grade rugby league player.

“If that doesn’t eventuate at least the person coming out of the academy is graduating with an education, hopefully a qualification if it be university or otherwise, and a career opportunity.”

Keeffe said the academy, which has been well received at a federal level, would fill a hole in the sporting development landscape in regional Queensland.

“The academy has caused a fair bit of interest in Canberra. Geoff and I have some appointments to see some ministers about the academy,” he said.

The bid team has put a submission to Regional Development Australia (RDA) and has spoken to federal Minister for Sport Mark Arbib, Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin, and Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean, who are all very interested in the project.

“The academy has been put at the top of the list of the RDA for regional development progress in Queensland,” Keeffe said.

The CQ NRL Bid team will meet Mr Arbib next month to discuss the project further.

“They’re interested because it’s an important aspect in developing the liveability in regional Queensland and regional Australia,” Keeffe said.

“It’s to provide a facility that doesn’t really exist. You can go to Canberra and go to Brisbane to do the AIS and the QAS, but there’s nothing for regional Queensland.”

The proposed academy facility will be based in the central Rockhampton precinct but will utilise the city’s other sporting facilities.

“We plan to have a good operation with the Central Queensland University,” Keeffe said.

“We’re talking to them about utilising a lot of their facilities.”

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