Junior rugby league to go ahead

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Laura Blackmore

What was meant to be one of South Burnett Rugby League’s biggest calendar years has been anything but that.

Despite starting the year on a high, the committee made the hard decision not to go ahead with the 2020 season.

However, they are determined to still host their development program, Beyond the Nest, for the third year in a row.

Development coordinator Scott Prendergast said he hoped the program would be a boost for players across the region.

“We normally start the program later in the year but because footy’s not running, we decided to bring it forward,” he said.

“It’s not a representative program and picking kids for teams, it’s about developing skills and teaching them about the game.

“We have less numbers in the South Burnett, so we are focused on bringing all of the kids up to high level.

“We had teams participate in a representative competition at Charville earlier this year.

“It was incredible to see their improvements,“ he said.

“We were wrapped with how the kids performed, especially against other stronger sides like Toowoomba and Redcliffe.”

Prendergast said the program was about more than just teaching juniors about rugby league.

“There are multiple aspects to the development program,” he said.

“Our aim is to make the kids become community members.

“For example at our camp in January, we are teaching them about things such as mental health, physical fitness, the importance of team building and employment opportunities.

“Ken Mills from Ken Mills Isuzu has been a huge supporter of the work we do and comes along to share his knowledge at guest presentations.

“South Burnett Regional Council and Stanwell have also been ongoing contributors to Beyond the Nest.”

As the region feels the effects from the current pandemic, Prendergast said local clubs had been hit hard by a different tragedy.

“We have had a number of suicide deaths of people who were involved with footy.

“There has been a number from Cherbourg and a young lady from Kingaroy.

“We have implemented a program called ‘Get Ahead of the Game,’ to help with mental health issues.

“It was funded by Movember fundraising.

“We have had about a dozen kids use the program and we hope a few more will take it up.

“It will be ongoing through the year.”

As they prepare to kick off the program, Prendergast said he looked forward to hosting the event.

“Everyone who is there, wants to be there,“ he said.

“The players are making mates for life.

“We even have old timer and organiser of the ’Team of the Century’, Allan Trunks, who has been involved in rugby league for more than 50 years and comes along to share his expertise.

“It’s infectious to be part of the sport and we are so pumped.”

The first Beyond the Nest one-day training camp will be held at the Murgon Mustangs football field on Sunday, July 19 from 10am.

Players who were registered with a South Burnett rugby league team in 2019 are able to attend the program.

Prendergast said if they weren’t registered, they could come along and work out the details.

To register your interest, email sb.beyondthenest@gmail.com.