AS the dust settles on the inaugural Arthur Beetson Foundation Future Immortals Tour, which saw a cohort of rugby league legends spend a long weekend in Kowanyama, the excited superstars are already asking when they can return to community.
Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council chief executive officer Kevin Bell, a passionate rugby league fan, said the positive outcomes from the event were already being felt.
“I would love to see this event take place again in the years to come,” he said.
“We also have a unique advantage being the first community to host this event and will be able to aid other communities in implementing events like this.”
Mr Bell joined fellow Kowanyama and Cape locals in Saturday’s rugby league matches, playing alongside some of league’s greatest in the main match.
Players who took to the field included Ben Hannant, Matt Bowen, Petero Civoniceva and Scott Prince.
“I’ve been playing league my whole life, and it was a really enjoyable game played in good spirits; we had a sort of gentleman’s agreement not to go to hard and try to enjoy ourselves,” the CEO said.
The league superstars flew into Kowanyama on Thursday with the Royal Australian Air Force for four days of events.
Mr Bell said not only were the players giving back to community through positive engagement and participation, but they were also forming important connections.
“The players were also given a cultural experience through activities at Kowanyama State School and the aged care centre, tours on Country and at the cultural research centre,” he said.
“They were also presented with traditional gifts from local community members.
“All of the feedback I have received from both community members and the Future Immortals participants has been extremely positive. The local community also got the opportunity to show off our slice of paradise, as well as engaging with the players and showcasing the athletic talent we have here in Kowanyama.
“At the conclusion of the tour, all the players were eager to return to community, asking when they could come back.”
Saturday’s curtain raiser was a two-game tournament between the Kowanyama Warriors, Kowanyama Memorial Team and Pormpuraaw Crocs.
The Warriors won their first game against Memorial and went on to face the Crocs, who took the final victory.
The main match between the Mal Meninga All Stars and Wally Lewis All Stars, comprising 20-plus former professional league players and local talent, was won by the Wally Lewis All Stars.