23 August 2023

GALLERY: Kowanyama welcomes league stars for second ABF Immortals Tour

| Sarah Martin
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Kowanyama locals joined with the visiting retired league legends for an exhibition match on Saturday.

Kowanyama locals joined with the visiting retired league legends for an exhibition match on Saturday.

KOWANYAMA footy fans were once again able to rub shoulders with rugby league legends as the Arthur Beetson Foundation Future Immortals Tour returned to the community.

After a great long weekend for the first ever Immortals Tour in 2022, ABF ambassador and retired league legend Petero Civoniceva said the players were keen to come back again.

“I was excited to return back to Kowanyama and be part of the community again, working with the schools, talking to the Elders and getting to go out on country with the rangers,” he said.

“I know for the players who were there last year, they loved it and hearing some of the stories that make Kowanyama such a unique place, they couldn’t wait to get back up there.”

The Arthur Beetson Foundation aims to build on the legacy of its namesake, one of rugby league’s top sportsmen, building the sport’s profile while providing opportunities both for communities and for former players to continue to connect the sport.

There wasn’t a commercial flight in sight as the players were flown into the Cape by the Royal Australian Air Force, whose personnel also took part in activities during the weekend.

Hope Vale export Brenton Bowen, who played for the North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans during his professional career, said the trip was memorable for both the players and community.

“From both aspects, the players enjoyed it and the community enjoyed it,” Bowen said.

“We also got to go out fishing on Country – the boys and the Australian Defence Force staff enjoyed that.”

Bowen said the kids loved interacting with the players at school, as well as the Deadly Choices, Dolphins development program and Queensland University of Technology staff,who attended.

“On Friday we spent the morning at school and had all the different stations for the kids to be involved in, Deadly Choices running traditional games, QUT with the time trials and react pods and the Dolphins running a footy clinic – it was fun all-round,” he said.

The Hope Vale product said a highlight for many was the footy matches where Immortals played alongside locals.

“The locals put their names down if they wanted to play and they got to play alongside or against some of their favourite players,” he said.

“I think that’s one of the great things about the Immortals Tour; we try to get out to places that don’t have many opportunities or exposure to the NRL because of distance or lack of facilities.”

Bowen said excitement was already mounting among the players who would be returning to the Far North for another Future Immortals Tour of Cooktown, Wujal Wujal and Hope Vale next month, from September 6 to 10.

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