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Volunteers deliver a footy season like no other

28 September 2020

35 teams. 430 players, and up to 2,000 spectators through the gates on game day.

For the volunteers at Caloundra Sharks Junior Rugby League Club, that’s a lot to manage.

“We have an incredible volunteer base. They are the backbone of the club and the only way it can function,” Caloundra Sharks President Leanne Maher said.

After only one or two training sessions earlier this year, the club was plunged into lockdown when COVID-19 health restrictions were introduced in March.

They took their first tentative steps back on the field as restrictions eased.

“We started with some low-key training sessions,” Leanne said.

“The kids are really resilient and were stoked to be back—they got straight into it. It’s all exercise and it gets them out playing with their mates.”

For some players, 2020 is their last year as a junior and perhaps their last year playing rugby league.

“Not all our players decide to move on to the seniors’ division, and so this year is special. We didn’t want them to miss that moment,” Leanne said.

When Leanne took on the role of club president at the start of the season, she had no idea what was to come.

“I thought at one point I may be the only club president to never deliver a season,” Leanne said.

“But we have a great little hub of families. They’ve felt the impact of the pandemic, but they’ve been incredible and have gotten us through to where we are now.

“For a lot of our parents here it has given them the chance to sit back and look at their priorities. Their kids physical and mental health is at the top of that list.”

Kickstart grant helps the club recover

A Queensland Government Active Clubs Kickstart grant is helping the rugby league club in its recovery.

“The funds came through quickly and meant we were able to implement our safety and hygiene plan, and get back on the field,” Leanne said.

The club is now enjoying the return of full contact play and spectators cheering from the sidelines.

“There is nothing like the buzz and excitement of game day,” Leanne said.

For more information about COVID-19 funding support for sport and active recreation organisations, visit the COVID-19 Return To Play website.