NRL Bid shows faith in CQ's talent
A THEODORE teenager could be one of the first home-grown rugby league stars to come through the Central Queensland junior ranks to play for a CQ-based NRL side.
Last week, Elijah Edwards was named one of the first two recipients under the QR National scholarship program.
The scholarship program – an initiative of the CQ NRL bid – provides assistance to Central Queensland youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who have shown potential and commitment to pursue excellence in sport and scholastic endeavours.
Edwards' scholarship, for the remainder of 2011 and 2012, includes financial assistance for school fees and representative football costs, as well as specialised mentoring and player welfare training from the CQ NRL Bid.
Edwards, whose family went through a difficult period when the floods hit Theodore early this year, is a boarding student at St Brendan's College, Yeppoon.
CQ NRL Bid community and business development manager Walson Carlos said the bid committee first became aware of the Edwards' family situation when it delivered flood-relief funding to Elijah's junior club, the Roosters, in the Theodore Junior Rugby League.
“The family home was devastated by the floods. I know this scholarship means a lot to Elijah and his parents,” Carlos said. “Elijah is an outstanding rugby league player and a diligent student. I'm sure he will make the most of this great opportunity.”
Edwards told Central Telegraph he was very excited and a bit overwhelmed to hear that he would be receiving the scholarship.
He is a centre or back-rower who has been playing football since he was six years old.
Edwards hopes he will be able to play for the Central Queensland football team when he gets older.
“I would be very excited and honoured to play for a CQ team,” Edwards said.
His parents Cheyenne and Joanne were thrilled at the news, despite the long recovery from the floods.
“Both Cheyenne and I were very excited and overwhelmed to hear such great news about this scholarship that was awarded to our son,” mum Joanne said.
“We would like to thank our family and friends for the support given to us through this special award.”
Former Queensland State of Origin great Jason Hetherington will act as a mentor to Edwards.
Hetherington, who grew up in Baralaba and was a Dawson Valley junior like Edwards, said he was looking forward to working with him.
“I hope to help him progress his football,” Hetherington said.
“Both being from the Dawson Valley, I think he will go about football in a similar way to me and we will have that in common.”
Joanne said the floods had hit them hard, as they lost their home and all their belongings, as well as vehicles and crops.
“We are on our road to recovery but a lot more is yet to be done,” Joanne said.
Their home is in the process of being rebuilt.
Rockhampton teen Caleb Tull was the other recipient of assistance under the QR National scholarship program and will be mentored by Justin Loomans.