The annual Obe Geia Challenge continues to make its mark on the North Queensland rugby league calendar and on the lives of its young participants.
This year's event, run by the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys and proudly supported by Evolution Mining, was again held on Palm Island to mark the close of term 3 and make the most of Springtime in the tropics.
Established in 2009, the Obe Geia Challenge comprises 12 local and mainland teams of 15 players aged 10-12 years and promotes the benefits of sport, fitness and healthy living, and also aims to increase positive attitudes and behaviours and reduce truancy.
The day began with an early morning SeaLink ferry ride to Palm Island, which sits 57km north of Townsville in the Great Barrier Reef. The trip takes around 1.5 hours and for some it was their first experience on the open seas.
On arrival, the group of around 200 visitors made their way to the rugby league grounds, taking in the spectacular scenery and enjoying the island vibe.
Participation in the carnival is at no cost to the students, their families or their school and provides an incentive for students to regularly attend school so that they can be eligible to participate in the event.
Thank you to the twelve teams who swapped their regular Friday for a very memorable day of rugby league: Bwgcolman Community School, St Michael's Catholic School, Good Shepherd Catholic Community School, Kelso State School, Magnetic Island State School, Marian Catholic School, Rasmussen State School, The Cathedral School of St Anne and St James, St Joseph's Catholic School, Vincent State School, St Clare's Catholic School and Ignatius Park College.
Packed with personality
Players, visitors and locals alike took the opportunity to welcome rugby league royal Matthew Bowen to the event. 'Mango' also met up with former Cowboys teammate, Palm Island local and Challenge namesake Obe Geia, and the duo performed the presentation honours later in the day.
Each Obe Geia Challenge pool match is 15 minutes long, with teams made up of 15 players (including five interchange players), comprising an even blend of players aged 10, 11 and 12 years. Teams follow the NRL Code of Conduct & Safe Play Code during the carnival.
And the winner is...
After a fun and fast-paced day of play, the top school from each of the two pools progressed to the grand final, contested this year by St Clare's Catholic School and St Joseph's Catholic School – The Strand. St Clare's emerged as the 2019 Obe Geia Challenge champions – congratulations!
Celebrating our values
Each team nominated one player to be recognised for their great attitude, effort and fair play with a Sportsmanship Award, presented at the end of the day. Thanks to SeaLink for their support and well done to the recipients!
The Obe Geia Challenge is an all-round team effort, made possible by the support of many:
- Trophies supplied by presenting partner Evolution Mining
- Return ferry tickets provided by supporting partner SeaLink
- Morning team and lunch provided by Palm Island Primary Health Care Centre
- Palm Island Council for the use of their rugby league grounds and facilities
- Volunteer referees from Kirwan State High School and Ignatius Park College
- Participating school communities, including players, staff and volunteers
- The people of Palm Island, for their warmth and generosity in sharing their home for the day!