GALLERY: Changing culture through league

QPS representative gets through to score a try. Pictures: Jessica McGrath 237871_02

By Jessica McGrath

Frank Fisher Invitational Side’s Vincent Law gained four tries which helped secure their close 34-26 win over the Queensland Police Service representative team.

The highly entertaining Frank Fisher Cup match at the Murgon Showgrounds on Saturday, 15 May was one of 70 games held in the name of starting the conversation about domestic violence.

The game did not disappoint, boosting community morale and promoting reconciliation through rugby league.

Cole Cooper, head of the DV Awareness Committee, said the high quality sport at the carnival was a way to bring people together.

“We’re using football to change the language of how we treat each other -with honesty and respect,” he said.

“The day has gone really well, we’ve had lots of positive feedback.”

The league carnival on Saturday was the final day of four days spreading the DV awareness message around the community.

From Wednesday to Friday the group visited South Burnett schools and rugby league clubs -including Nanango State High School, Kingaroy State High School, Kingaroy State School and Kingaroy Rugby League.

A DV stakeholder dinner was held at the Murgon RSL on Friday night with guest speakers.

Part of the team keen to spread the awareness was Queensland Rugby League player Gavin Cooper and Canberra Raiders, NSW State of Origin and the 2008 Prime Minister’s Cup player Alan Tongue.

They partnered up with Vanessa Fowler from the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation to deliver the program over the week.

The young people involved in the rugby league clubs and schools looked up to these sporting ‘heroes’ and listened to their messages.

“We focussed on -don’t be silent about it, stand up for vulnerable people in the community and to change the culture on equality, as men and women are equal,” Cooper said.

The teenagers could especially relate to and be encouraged by Gavin Cooper’s story -who came from Murgon, played for the Murgon Mustangs and then went on to play for the North Queensland Cowboys, Gold Coast Titans and has played six State of Origin matches.

Other important role models were the Queensland Police officers who camped out on ‘Wakka Wakka land’ at Murgon to prepare themselves for the annual Frank Fisher Cup.

The clash honoured the late Frank ’Big Shot’ Fisher, an outstanding South Burnett sportsman and ultra-competitive five-eighth and captain of the Cherbourg Rugby League team. He was later named in the national “Indigenous Team of the Century” in 2008.

The Stanwell 9’s grand final saw the Murgon Mustangs beat the Kingaroy Red Ants 26-15 at the end of the day.

Cooper thanked the community for their support for the carnival.

“For the community to receive it with arms wide open is special,” he said.

The group are already looking forward to next year to see how the awareness event will grow.

“As the years go on, we up the anti of what we envisioned it to be,” he said.

“What we do could be used as a template around the country.”