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QRL Tackle6 Charity Shield celebrates 10 years

Tackle6 Charity Shield celebrates 10 years
Tackle6 Charity Shield celebrates 10 years (Photo : QRL)

QRL Tackle6 Charity Shield celebrates 10 years

Author : Cameron Stallard QRL content producer

The Tackle6 Charity Shield has faced its fair share of adversity, but being a carnival aimed to build resilience, its main messaging has been the key to its success and longevity.

The Central Queensland carnival has battled floods and the COVID-19 pandemic over its 10-year evolvement and despite the challenges, organiser Michael Fletcher said determination to improve the event each year was one of the main reasons it had stood the test of time.

“You always think in the back of your head that you want it to go on forever, but I’ve been lucky enough to attend Laurie Spina and a couple of other carnivals and really enjoyed them. The plan was to steal the best ideas from those carnivals and intertwine it into new carnival here and watch it grow,” Fletcher said, reflecting on the carnival’s longevity.

“I’m pretty proud we’ve got to the 10th year even though we’ve only had eight competitions, the carnival has just evolved so it’s just always seeing how we can take it another step and always try to improve.

“It’s the number one goal out of running it.”

When first sparking the idea to host the under 14 carnival in 2012, the Rockhampton Junior Rugby League president wanted to provide a fun weekend of on-field action, deliver education to those who attended and support the local community.

“When I was asked to do it back in 2012 when we first kicked off the first one, I said to the people I was involved with at the time… ‘we have to have a strong message with the carnival and help out the local community’ so that’s where the charity shield part comes from,” Fletcher said.

“We started out with supporting Camp Quality and Cancer Council Queensland because there’s local representation here and we got those two organisations involved early and the kids got involved playing touch footy against retired NRL players.

“We felt it was a strong message that it [the carnival] is all about having fun and that if you don’t make it in the early years, don’t give up. Opportunities do arise and you just have to be true to yourself moving forward.”

The event has partnered with a number of wellbeing services to deliver the key resilience messaging over the journey, this year continuing with Darumbal Community Youth Service’s Tackle6 program headed by former South Sydney Rabbitohs back Jamie Simpson.

“Probably about five years ago, we teamed up with Headspace and had PJ Marsh and David Faiumu talk to the kids about their journeys and resilience and what they did in overcoming adversity,” Fletcher said.

“Jamie has now come on board and probably reiterated a lot of that stuff.

“He talks about social media, bullying and some of those decisions kids have to make in life that could affect them dramatically going forward, so it’s about giving them some tools to take to life.

“Rugby league is a fantastic sport but also a fantastic vehicle to promote good living, welfare, lifestyle and good decision-making off the footy field to take them to better places.

“It’s mandatory for all the players to do the half hour session and we encourage all the coaching staff to come along too.

“I’ve sat in quite a few of them and just see the looks on some of the kids faces when they hear some of the stories; it’s a good thing and hopefully they take those messages on in future life.”

The 2019 Tackle6 Charity Shield grand finalists (Photo : QRL)

The 2019 Tackle6 Charity Shield grand finalists (Photo : QRL)

Whilst nothing out of the ordinary has been planned for the carnival’s decade year due to the ever-changing and unpredictable world that currently exists, Fletcher said he hoped to see a few more teams from outside Rockhampton attend – especially given the recent changes to the QRL representative programs.

“We haven’t really planned [anything special] because the environment changes so quickly [with the COVID-19 pandemic at the moment]. We just want to stick to the basics of providing a good, safe carnival,” Fletcher said.

“We’re also just trying to encourage more regional teams to travel to Rocky.

“Probably one big thing with the change of the QRL representative programs and introduction of the RISE program is some of the kids from surrounding areas like Mackay and Bundaberg won’t get the opportunity to play against kids from Central Queensland and the same further north and south.

“It’s probably an opportune time for them to come together and test themselves again sides from other regions. Our philosophy probably goes hand-in-hand with the RISE program with the welfare side too.”

Being hosted this year on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11, nominations for the 2021 Tackle6 Charity Shield close this Friday, and with teams previously coming from as far as Edmonton, Beaudesert and Charleville, everyone is welcome to attend.

“It’s open to everyone to get here and we like to frequently put on a welcoming carnival,” Fletcher said.

“It’s not all about the footy, it’s about the life skills the kids get out of going to carnivals and get out of this event.”

Click here to download the nomination form.

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