Kimberley Rugby League, which is predominantly made up of the great people from the Kununurra area, needed some more rugby league in 2022. Their kids were crying out for some competitive games, and the town of approximately 6000 people wanted to let them show their wares.
A mere 27 minutes from the Northern Territory border, these proud WA people were ready for some action.
Over 1000 kilometres away, 11 hours non stop in a bus, Broome was the closest club able to give them some rugby league, and it looked like it might be a bridge too far.
After having some stars participate in the Junior State Champs, names like Jimmy Fletcher and Will Gardner in the U13s, along with Tremane Irvine in the U15s, showed that the small region to the north can hold their own with the best of the best in WA. And that more opportunities to play had to materialise.
Enter a conversation between Kununurra stalwart, and mum, Kalyn Fletcher with one of the long standing North West Volunteers, the amazing Matty Corpus. Could Kimberley Rugby League possibly come to Broome in November/December and play some games?
From that one conversation, the train rolled on. With support from the NRL WA, the Broome Jets and the Kimberley Rugby League resumed what was actually an old rivalry. With Kununurra APEX Australia coming on as the major sponsor, and support from Clontarf and tireless bus driver Mason Stewart, the kids from the Kimberley looked like they were going to get a game, with Kerry York the Kimberley Junior Rugby League President keen to be involved.
Now we just needed the final pieces, which was all the off field stuff.
While Kalyn and the Kimberley Junior Rugby League worked on getting their coaching accreditation, Sean Durant the president of the Broome Jets worked his magic in the North. With the experience Sports Trainer maestro in Patrick Moase involved, the venue was set. The trainers in play, and the referees locked and loaded.
Understand, that while Broome aren’t as far away from the metro scene as Kununurra, they are still 6 and a half hours removed from their nearest rival in the South Hedland Cougars. And with a transient population of around 15,000, they are known more for Cable Beach and their tourist scene. So its an amazing undertaking that both clubs could achieve this at the end of the year.
The stage was set. November 25th and 26th was locked in and time was upon us last weekend.
Friday night arrived. The teams were pumped and the weather was perfect for Rugby League. And over Friday and Saturday night the kids from Broome and Kimberley Junior Rugby League played 4 games in the U11s and U13s age groups, and lit up the turf with with their rugby league dreams in full flight. Played in amazing spirits, it was Matty Corpus who summed it up best.
“It was quite a humbling feeling to see the excitement in every single player, it was an amazing effort”
“Broome and Kununurra have a great relationship that stems from almost 10 years ago, from when the seniors had their first ever game. It is a relationship that we’ll continue to build and look forward to the future.”
An equally effusive Kalyn Fletcher, ably supported by husband Matt Fletcher, who coached the Kimberley Junior U11’s team, was beaming about the experience.
“Our boys were so absolutely stoked with their weekend of footy.”
“Broome were so welcoming. The calibre of the sportsmanship displayed by both teams is something I will cherish. It was absolutely heart warming”
An amazing story of adversity to play a game that we all love and take for granted some times, this is a trip that the kids from the Kimberley and equally those hosting from Broome will always remember.
There are no losers in this story. Only winners from both sides. Real life superheroes who don’t wear capes.
Rugby League isn’t just the greatest game of all. The people involved are amazing.
And for those still reading. The kids from the Kimberley are actually still in Broome! The highways are flooded, but they aren’t complaining. They are just getting on with enjoying themselves and smiling about their Rugby League journey.
2023 is looking even better, with Broome Jets already committed to heading to Kununurra for a return fixture!
From the team here at NRL WA, we thank and salute all those involved in the weekend and love all the smiling faces!
Anyone interested in rugby league in Kimberley or Broome?
Remember everyone to Fuel To Go & Play, and always #beyourbest.