IPSWICH has recognised one of its own with former Queensland Rugby League boss Petros Betros returning to North Ipswich Reserve.
With a distinguished career as a rugby league administrator, Betros was bestowed the honour of being named patron of Rugby League Ipswich at Saturday's season launch.
Born into a rugby league family, Betros started his long journey in Ipswich from referee to his 17 years on the QRL board and four years as chairman.
"Ipswich rugby league is where I got my first start in the game,” he said.
"I refereed here for 20 years and did over a 1000 games here.
"My career as an administrator started here as well. First as the secretary of the referees and then I became chairman of the whole southern division.
"It went on from there and I became the chairman of the QRL for the last four years.”
Standing in front of the Ipswich faithful at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday carried a sense of coming full circle for the former referee.
Honoured by the appointment, Betros said he had always kept Ipswich close to his heart.
"I suppose it does feel like it's all come around,” he laughed. "I've never lost my touch with Ipswich.
"During my time as chairman going around to all the rugby league grounds I still felt that this was the heartland. They are sincere rugby league people and I've always enjoyed coming out here.”
Looking back over the past two decades, former school teacher Betros still remembers where it all started. It was a chance decision to follow a college which began his early career as a referee.
"I owe Ipswich a lot,” he said. "This is where I put my roots down and where it all came together for me.
"I grew up with rugby league when I was in Toowoomba with five brothers who all played. I fell into refereeing from when I was a teacher and another teacher at the time was a referee and dragged me into it.
"I never for a moment thought that after refereeing here in Ipswich that I would go onto a career in administration but I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Ipswich councillor Kerry Silver and Rugby League Ipswich chairman Jack Rhea were on hand to announce Betros' appointment as patron as three A Grade games kicked off the Ipswich competition on Saturday.
Ipswich 'will lead the way' for Queensland
DURING his tenure at the QRL, Peter Betros has seen some big changes come into play.
The Intrust Super Cup is now firmly entrenched as the second-tier Queensland competition, grown through the introduction of the NRL State Championship and Country Week initiatives.
Last year the QRL revealed their new headquarters dubbed, Rugby League Central, Queensland. Situated next to Suncorp Stadium the RLCQ is home to more than 100 staff from across the NRL, QRL, Men of League and Touch Football.
"There's two things happening at the moment with rugby league and Ipswich,” he said. "There's the new administration set up which I was involved with last year.
"It's a prototype of how to administrate rugby league in different districts and I'm looking forward to how that will progress here.
"The second is that any referee who earns his or her stripes in Ipswich has the opportunity to make it into the national league without leaving home. The structure is all set up in Queensland to allow a young referee to have that opportunity and still stay at home.
"I think it's fantastic and I wish it was around when I was getting into it. No matter where you live, you can make that step up now and that's fantastic.”
During the off-season, Betros oversaw the merger of Ipswich junior and senior rugby league administrations into the one body under Rugby League Ipswich.
Excited about the new approach to running local leagues as a business model, Betros said Ipswich would lead the way for Queensland.
"We've got Ipswich and the Gold Coast leading the way in Queensland and it's making rugby league more professional,” he said. "It's being run like a business and I think looking into the future we need to make sure all our sport is run like a business.
"It's an exciting time and a new way of running rugby league in regional areas.”