Same size, but a lot better
LAST year the Indigenous Reconciliation Carnival was big but Walson Carlos reckons the 2010 event is going to be better still.
One reason why Carlos, the carnival director, feels the event should prove to be highly successful is because this year its base is at Browne Park, the home of rugby league.
In its previous two years the carnival has taken place at Saleyards Park and while this has proved to be an excellent venue there is little doubt that Browne Park elevates the status of the tournament.
“It seems to be getting better every year,” Carlos enthused. “It’s pretty exciting.”
While the carnival is becoming a more important event on the rugby league calendar, Carlos admits that numbers are being retained at the same level as 2009.
“We were looking at having more teams but we have cut from two fields at Saleyards Park to one,” he explained.
“So we have decided to stick with the same number as last year.”
Team numbers may be the same but a further increase in prizemoney has resulted in teams from further afield attending and also an improvement in quality with “celebrity” involvement.
“There are teams from places we’ve not had before,” he said.
One team certain to provide some interest is the Ipswich Purga Wagtails which boasts, among its team members, dual international Andrew Walker.
Another interesting side will be from Thursday Island while a team known as “Storm United” lists Matt Sing as one of its two coaches.
Some of the football played at the 2009 carnival was enterprising but one team, Cherbourg Hornets, stood out above the rest in winning the tournament and having six team members selected for the Carnival Merit team.
Again the side is coached by James Saltner and should be a major threat.
In 2009 the carnival was fortunate to have David Peachey as its ambassador.
“We are still hopeful he may come,” Carlos said. “He was great.”
While rugby league is the centrepiece of the carnival the event also acts as a showcase for many cultural activities.
Last year the theme was respect but for 2010 the focus is on young people and will be “It is not cool to sniff fuel”.
Activities begin on Friday, January 22, with the draw.
The following day will see group games played from 8am to 7.30pm plus the carnival’s official opening, kids sprints and an under-17 challenge match.
Sunday will see the playing of quarter and semi-final games for both the Plate and Shield competitions.
Monday, January 24, is the final day and has exhibition games for under 8s, 12s, 15s and women before the highlight of the weekend, the Shield Grand Final, which is scheduled for 2.10pm followed by presentations.