ARL’s under funding the grassroots while gambling on Vegas condemned by Katters

Feb 7, 2024

Robbie Katter says the Australian Rugby League (ARL) is gambling away the future of grassroots football in North Queensland, with the NRL’s push into Las Vegas coming at the same time as funding requests for regional competitions including the historic Foley Shield are denied by the sport’s governing body.

“The ARL needs to get its priorities straight.  They rejected a funding application from the QRL to support one of the longest-running, foundational football competitions in North Queensland, but still found the millions to send teams to Las Vegas.

“Bleeding regional competitions dry while indulging in junkets overseas goes to the heart of a severe cultural problem at the heart of the ARL.

“When I played with Charters Towers as a kid for our little local league side we were constantly outnumbered and outgunned by the big boys from the city.

“But now we’re in a different fight to keep these historic competitions alive in regional Queensland in the face of dwindling support from the guardians of the game based in Sydney,” Mr Katter said.

The former rugby league five-eighth said the most recent revelations that NRL clubs involved in the Las Vegas junket were receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover training costs added insult to injury when local competitions in North Queensland struggle to stay afloat.

“The Foley Shield was once something every kid who played league aspired to be a part of because it was renowned for being extremely tough and very competitive.

“In starving grassroots competitions of funds the ARL are tearing away at the fabric of football, and demonstrating they have lost sight of why many of us bleed for the game,” Mr Katter said.

Proud North Queensland Cowboys fan and Federal KAP Bob Katter said the ARL’s support towards grassroots and regional competitions was laughable.

“While the chairman of the ALR will be running around in America making a big man of himself, or promoting some other wokie agenda for the sport, it’s about time he realises kids are not playing rugby league in schools,” Bob Katter said.

“As is anything in regional Queensland, we’ve got another Sydney corporate (who has very little background in rugby league) taking away from a region which has given so much to the game.

“Slater, Myles, Boustead, Williams, Bowen, Hodges, Flegler, this is just a short list of the talent that’s come from North Queensland – home of the Foley Shield.

“And now we’ve got a commission effectively starving the potential of adding to that list, of nurturing the next generation coming through regional Queensland, while it big-mans itself overseas.”

Mr Katter who helped establish rugby league competitions throughout North-West Queensland said without adequate funding flowing into competitions such as Foley Shield and other school and local events, rugby league in regional Queensland would not achieve the essential social functions it provides off the field.

“You can’t walk down the street in any North Queensland town on a Monday and not hear about how the Cowboys went. Or if you go into a pub, you can’t not discuss the local derbies.

“Rugby league has always provided an event to channel and develop mens’ natural aggression, it teaches self-sacrifice, hard work and rewards, working as a team to achieve a goal and loyalty to your mates.”

Photo: KAP Party Leader, Robbie Katter around the outside of QLD Premier, Steven Miles.