LOOKING AHEAD: Rugby League Ipswich's newest board member Darren Boettcher is keen to build on past traditions.
LOOKING AHEAD: Rugby League Ipswich's newest board member Darren Boettcher is keen to build on past traditions. Rob Williams

Growing country clubs major footy positive

RUGBY League Ipswich's latest board member Darren Boettcher is encouraged seeing country clubs working hard to develop their juniors and build senior teams.

"From the Ipswich level, I like how we've got plenty of clubs,'' Boettcher said.

"The junior clubs are coming through . . . Lowood and Rosewood and Fassifern . . . clubs like that are growing and you've got Rosewood up into the higher grades this year, which is good.''

Rosewood are in Reserve Grade and Fassifern are defending A-Grade premiers.

"It's great for the country clubs to do that and those are regions where population is growing,'' the LJ Hooker Director of Sales and Marketing said.

"Laidley is growing and Lowood is growing. There's more players coming in from Boonah, Kalbar, Fassifern . . . those areas are growing.

"From the population point and the geographical spread of our region we cover, it's very encouraging.''

Boettcher also likes the tradition of Ipswich competition clubs.

"What we are finding are a lot of clubs now have leadership groups, which we didn't have 10-15 years ago,'' he said.

"We have club captains. We also have different women now coming into the club and some of the junior teams are supporting the women and the women supporting the junior teams.

"There's more camaraderie around.

"What the clubs do well is looking after their own.''

However, while some clubs are tracking well and have terrific coaches and volunteers, the long-time coach would like to see more work done.

"What we need to do is get the next level of coaches more upskilled,'' he said. "Coaching is extremely important.''

Trying to improve standards is one of the reasons he accepted when offered a chance to fill the remaining spot on the Rugby League Ipswich board.

"This position came up last year and I really thought about what contribution I could make,'' he said, appointed in January to join chairman Gary Parker and other board members David Nugent, Anthony Breeze and David Martin.

"I looked at it from a football background that I'd done everything that I wanted to achieve . . . coaching juniors, winning premierships, coaching rep teams and being a manager of the some of the higher grades and I thought this is the next step.

"I love the game at all levels of football.''

Looking back on his rugby league career, Boettcher grew up at Silkstone, about 500m up the road from Brothers football club.

"All my friends at primary school played for Brothers,'' the former Silkstone State School student said.

"And I said to dad (Swifts stalwart Ken) one day - not knowing the rivalry between Swifts and Brothers when I was about nine years old - that I wanted to play for Brothers.

"And dad said 'you're playing for Swifts or you're not playing at all' and I started crying and I thought it was the end of the world.

"I look back now and it was so funny.''

Despite all his years of rugby league experience, Boettcher discovered a new level of commitment needed to serve on the RLI board.

"I'm enjoying the role. It's opened my eyes up to how much it takes to run a competition and how much it takes to run all competitions in Ipswich,'' he said.

"The amount of work really surprised me and the decisions that have to be made and the pre-planning that goes into that is amazing.''

However, he's jumped in head first eager to do what he can to help the clubs under the RLI banner.

"I've got to hit the ground hard running because the other board members are already in place,'' Boettcher said.

"So I'm sort of coming in mid-stream and getting my head around a few things what's happening out at club-land and also what's happening out in the rugby league world in the South East Queensland corner.

"Being on the board is a challenge and if it wasn't a challenge, I wouldn't be on the board.''

Tomorrow online: Tackling a major football issue.



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