By Rowan Sparkes
SPORT is about great people doing great things – but it doesn’t always happen out on the field.
Since 2004, the Men of League’s Far North Queensland Committee has been supporting members of the region’s rugby league community through the delivery of physical, financial and emotional support.
While the organisation was first established with an aim to lend a helping hand to old playing mates who were facing tough times, FNQ Committee president John McAllister said it had grown to provide assistance to more than just players.
“Our main objective is to ensure that not only past players but mums, dads and children belonging to the rugby league fraternity are looked after,” he said.
The committee has recently provided assistance to former CDRL players Harry Deemal and George Ryan.
Hailing from Hopevale, Deemal played his junior footy on the Sunshine Coast in the 1970s and would go on to play A Grade alongside rugby league legend Mal Meninga.
Upon returning to the Far North, Deemal was a well- known and respected footballer, playing centre with Ivanhoes, Innisfail United, Babinda and Mossman.
Deemal now undergoes dialysis treatment three times a week, as well as suffering from other health issues, and Men of League has started social visits to provide assistance when and if required.
Ryan played rugby league in Mareeba before suffering a spinal injury in the early 1980s, which confined him to a wheelchair.
Men of League has recently bought him a second-hand car, which was converted for his use by the NDIS.
“We also recently visited a retired captain-coach who played locally and was also a rep player,” wellbeing officer Christine Muirhead said.
“He suffered an assault away from football and is in the early stages of dementia. He will be visited again in a few months to see if Men of League can be of assistance financially, as well as emotionally.”
Christine’s husband and fellow wellbeing officer Richard Muirhead said the FNQ Committee was always welcoming calls from those in need.