By Liam Emerton
It was a tough 2020 for junior rugby league across Australia but its return has brought plenty of league lovers joy in 2021.
And on Sunday we saw the return of the cutest junior rugby league in the Rockhampton region – the under 5s and under 6s mini-mod competitions.
It’s been a great comeback by our local competition who are boasting grades all the way up until under 17s with plenty of talent showcased.
Those talented individuals will have a chance to shine this year as well with the introduction of the RISE program.
The RISE Rugby League Development Program provides aspirational Junior Rugby League players (Under 13 to Under 15) and coaches with an avenue to obtain specialised training and education through a holistic rugby league development experience.
That program is set to kick off on the weekend, giving our junior rugby league faithful a great opportunity and pathway to develop their game.
But for Rockhampton Junior Rugby League President Mick Fletcher, who took over at the start of this year, it’s just been great to have footy back in the local region.
“We kicked off before the school holidays last term and we’re back again after kicking off on Friday night,” he said.
“We will work our way through the rest of the season and start our finals around the end of May and start of June.
“We had our little mini mods kick off on Sunday and that’s always a great experience.
“Especially watching the first lot of five-year olds run around, their shorts are usually down towards their knees and their jerseys are way too big but they don’t care because they’re running around playing footy.”
Fletcher touched on the new RISE development program which could help develop and unearth Central Queensland’s next Cameron Munster or Tamika Upton.
“We’ve got the new RISE program which takes over from representative footy,” he said.
“We’re going to kick that off next week and that’s for our 13,14 and 15 year old girls and boys.
“That’s a six week program that the kids applied for and will learn not only on-field skills but off-field skills as well.
“That’s very very important for kids in this day and age.
“It gives kids, who may not have made a rep side, a chance to experience what happens when you’re away at a carnival or in that rep system especially the off field stuff.
“I’ve been lucky to be doing it for around the last 10 years and it’s very important that we teach our future leaders of our district responsibilities off the field as well as on.”