With kids playing touch footy as far as the eye could see at Boorowa’s Combined Primary Netball/Touch Football Carnival, it's little wonder why NRL team Canberra Raiders have an expressed an interest in the region.
Canberra Raiders staff including coach Ricky Stuart and CO Don Furner were on hand at the Boorowa Showground to officially turn the sod at the site of the future Hilltops Council sports hub.
Stuart said the region was extremely important to the Raiders.
“Firstly we had our Canberra Raiders board meeting here in Boorowa at the Council offices,” he said.
“Country towns such as Boorowa are a very important part of our Raiders community and that is something that’s very evident from the way we sign players from the country and bring players into Canberra and give them the opportunity to realise their dream of playing NRL football.”
He noted Shannon Boyd and Jarrod Croker as great examples of players from the bush now making a serious impact in the NRL.
“Two guys that come to mind straight away are Jarrod and Shannon but we have a number of boys from the regional areas,” he said.
“It’s wonderful to be able to bring them into Canberra, give them the opportunity to become good people and play for the Canberra Raiders in the NRL.”
Mr Furner said it gives country kids the chance to play NRL at the top level without having to move to a big city.
“It’s all part of our region, we have teams from all around the region play in the Canberra competition, we get young guys come across and trial for us,” he said.
“We just want to make sure kids in the country get the same opportunities as the kids in the big cities so they don’t have to go too far, they don’t have to go Sydney to chase their dreams.
“They can come to Canberra, play for the local competition, test themselves against the Canberra teams and all of a sudden, get spotted and come into a high performance centre.”
Mr Furner said the team was closely aligned with touch and tag competitions in the area and has seen a number of kids from the bush at trials.
“We’d like to increase the resources we put into this area in regards to coaching clinics and development officers coming out here,” he said.
“It’s a big catchment area for Canberra.”
As for the 2018 season, Stuart said pre-season training will commence in early November.
“It was a disappointing result last year, we need to correct some things to get into the eight, that’s every club’s dream and that’s what every club is striving for so we are no different.”