NRL a massive hit in CQ

HEARTLAND Central Queensland’s appetite for live NRL has been wetted. MACKAY’s Virgin Australia Stadium was the place and the date was Sunday 24th June, 2012 when a live NRL game was first conducted in CQ. I was there along with around 12,000 other avid Rugby League fans.

There were many positive outcomes and conditions that were conducive to making this event possible and I will cover them later. For now I just want to talk about the atmosphere and enjoyment of the CQ Rugby League fans that supported the game by attending.

I admit that I am privileged and very fortunate to have been able to attend the first and second State of Origin games this year in Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium and the ANZ Stadium in Sydney. At both stadia the atmosphere was electric .The games themselves were very enjoyable,  because it was  Origin and because the contests were so gladiatorial with every single play, tackle, run etc contested by our finest Rugby League athletes. They played themselves to a standstill and completely committed themselves both physically and mentally right to the very end.

To an avid Rugby League fan like me, Origin is a massive experience but in Mackay I entered another world of Rugby League excitement and enjoyment. This was the NRL, the highest level of club Rugby League in the world being played for the first time in our region, our HEARTLAND of CQ. Personally the moment was not lost but it did reinforce a few facts to me. The most obvious being the huge difference of entertainment options and in particular high level sporting opportunities that exist for metropolitan Australian as opposed to regional Australians. Queenslanders in the south east of the state can attend 24 plus NRL games live annually and in Sydney, the choices are almost limitless.

We choose to live where we live for a variety of reasons but should some regional Queenslanders be denied an activity that is fundamental to a “normal” level of liveability? I suggest NOT. So where to from here? What is it that made this game in Mackay happen and how can this fabulous exercise be repeated on an irregular or hopefully a regular basis?

The Mackay game was possible because some passionate and committed individuals combined their dedication to their community and to their sport with the appropriate NRL decision makers who had the power to award the game to Mackay. But the main reason why this NRL game was able to be staged in Mackay was because the Virgin Australia Stadium existed and was able to comply with the NRL and the media’s requirements. The Stadium’s attractiveness to the corporate and public sectors also greatly contributed to the game’s eventuality.

We need more wonderful public assets like the Virgin Australia Stadium, and more positive and committed Rugby League and community minded people like those in Mackay to force the decision makers to contribute to our regional way of life.

Most of all, we need our own NRL club in CQ to deliver these public facilities and assets and to improve our quality of life in Regional Queensland.

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