Goodna Eagles captain Ramon Filipine and teammate Ben Niumata savour the 2020 grand final-winning moment at the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: Bruce Clayton
Goodna Eagles captain Ramon Filipine and teammate Ben Niumata savour the 2020 grand final-winning moment at the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: Bruce Clayton

Revealed: The top 10 Ipswich winter sport leaders

DURING the most challenging winter season due to COVID restrictions, a number of Ipswich representatives stood tall.

Some powerhouse performers put their hand up and bodies on the line to lead the way.

In the second of a two-part countdown, check out the top 10 achievers who have made a massive impact in recent months.

TOP 21 COUNTDOWN: See who made 21-11 on the list

Goodna Eagles sharpshooter Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga. Picture: Bruce Clayton
Goodna Eagles sharpshooter Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga. Picture: Bruce Clayton

10. Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga (rugby league)

Goodna's star recruit for the Volunteers Cup competition could probably kick a goal from the moon if given the opportunity.

That's clearly an exaggeration but his ability to land a conversion from any part of the field is simply incredible.

His kicking alone secured the Eagles more than a dozen points each game.

But that was only the icing on the proverbial cake for the player of the tournament.

His speed at the back handling aerial kicks or igniting attack were at times breathtaking. He reads the play superbly.

It's just a shame he has not been in the Ipswich competition for longer to inspire more young footballers to improve all aspects of their game.

 

Loyal Western Pride footballer Nielen Brown. Picture: Nev Madsen
Loyal Western Pride footballer Nielen Brown. Picture: Nev Madsen

9 . Nielen Brown (football)

The Western Pride captain became the Ipswich club's most capped senior player this season, surpassing Joe Duckworth's 94 appearances in previous seasons.

Despite some troublesome injuries, Brown was a regular leader during his six seasons at the former National Premier Leagues club.

His work ethic and midfield efficiency have been trademarks during Brown's 96 NPL and Football Queensland Premier League matches. He also played in seven FFA Cup games for the club.

While this season threw up some new challenges, Brown led Pride at every opportunity, producing some incredibly tenacious efforts.

 

Ipswich Force captain Jason Ralph playing in the 2020 Queensland State League competition.
Ipswich Force captain Jason Ralph playing in the 2020 Queensland State League competition.

8. Jason Ralph (basketball)

The Ipswich Force captain has a decade of state league experience, yet is still only in his mid twenties.

Returning from back problems that spoiled his previous season, Ralph showed he has lost none of his sharp court passing and shooting skills.

He organised play superbly, working closely with Bullets recruit Nathan Sobey.

They provided a new level of confidence guiding Ipswich's upcoming players who also performed well in this year's Queensland State League competition.

Fiercely proud of his Ipswich upbringing, Ralph helped his team reach the semi-finals in a high quality competition that was created when this year's NBL1 North series was delayed due to COVID.

 

Goodna Sapphires captain Robyn Walsh.
Goodna Sapphires captain Robyn Walsh.

7. Robyn Walsh (netball)

When it comes to experience and longevity, the Goodna Sapphires captain is up with the best.

Her team is favoured to win the Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup competition, being undefeated after their latest qualifying final victory.

Such an achievement would add to Goodna's 2017 and 2018 grand final victories, along with other state competition successes.

Walsh commands respect, leading by example and offering inspired words when the team needs it the most.

"Robyn is a very experienced captain and has always been the main voice of this team,'' Sapphires coach Darren Eustace said.

"The team loves hearing a good ol' Robyn pre-game inspirational quote each week and look forward to the game wrap afterwards too.''

 

Norths A-Grade captain Chris Scanlan. Picture: David Lems
Norths A-Grade captain Chris Scanlan. Picture: David Lems

6. Chris Scanlan (rugby league)

The retiring Norths A-Grade captain deserved a winning grand final farewell.

It was not to be against the might of a powerful Goodna side and with so many Tigers players injured. However, it was pleasing to hear victorious Goodna captain Ramon Filipine acknowledge Scanlan's efforts this year and over past seasons.

"Before I actually played in the comp, I used to come and watch the A-Grade and he was running around,'' Filipine said. "He was the benchmark.

"And then playing against him too, I just want to say 'thank you mate for all the battles'.

"He's been like a worthy opponent all through our time here.''

Scanlan retired from A-Grade having played in four grand finals for Norths over the last seven years, having a 50 per cent win rate.

That included satisfying back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.

 

Jets captain Stephanie O'Brien
Jets captain Stephanie O'Brien

5. Stephanie O'Brien (netball)

The USQ Jets captain is hoping to lead her side to victory in this year's Sapphire Series grand final after the challenges of a delayed format due to COVID-19.

In her second season with the Jets, O'Brien is a steadying influence with her measured midcourt work setting up attacking play.

The Jets finished minor premiers, eager to carry their "champion mindset'' into the finals.

The Bremer State School PE teacher's leadership qualities have played a big part in the success so far.

Her physicality and fitness ensure that she is able to play aggressively and competitively for 60 minutes.

O'Brien also gives back to the community as a coach and encouraging young women to pursue sport.

That included coaching the under 16 Jets team at this year's state championships. She also coached Met West at the School State championships.

 

Ipswich Force co-captain Amy Lewis. Picture: Megan Low
Ipswich Force co-captain Amy Lewis. Picture: Megan Low

4. Amy Lewis (basketball)

WHEN it comes to needing a cool head in a pressure situation, Ipswich Force co-captain Amy Lewis is the go-to basketballer.

She does her best work when she slots into the proverbial zone and accepts the growing challenge.

The former national leaguer played a pivotal role in guiding this year's Force women to the Queensland State League (QSL) semi-finals.

Although Force lost that battle, Lewis had already done a mighty job working with a number of promising players in the Ipswich program.

Like the Force men, the Ipswich women's team needed a seasoned performer to guide exciting prospects like Catherine Macgregor and Iris Cubit. Lewis did with her trademark dependability and temperament.

"I like to lead by example,'' Lewis said, just before the semi-final, reflecting on her vital role lifting Ipswich to a nailbiting quarter-final win.

"I've played a lot of basketball and I've been in situations like that many times before.

"I just felt really calm.''

 

Goodna Eagles captain Ramon Filipine (left). Picture: Bruce Clayton
Goodna Eagles captain Ramon Filipine (left). Picture: Bruce Clayton

 

3. Ramone Filipine (rugby league)

After the Goodna football warrior toyed with the idea of retiring this year, he was glad he soldiered on.

He clearly enjoyed holding the inaugural Volunteers Cup trophy aloft after the Eagles completed a tremendous season with a grand final win over Norths.

Filipine revealed early in the competition between Ipswich and Toowoomba teams that he felt stale and was contemplating retirement. However, the powerhouse forward soaked up the challenge of helping the Eagles young guns and revitalised his motivation levels.

With a new lease of footy life, he guided Goodna to a comfortable grand final win after the team only lost one of its 11 lead-up games.

"It's kind of sparked something new for me,'' Filipine, 35, said of leading this year's youth-laden Goodna side.

"For a couple of years there, I was getting a bit stale and repetitive.

"But now it's a lot different.''

Filipine led the Goodna grunt upfront and provided a voice of authority that let the Eagles speedsters do their work.

After sharing in the grand final success, Filipine vowed to play one more season with Goodna before hanging up the boots.

"I always said I would finish off next year,'' Filipine said.

"This year, because of COVID, I was going to rule it out but the boys talked me into coming back. And then next year will be my last.''

 

Hockey Queensland award winner and successful player and coach Sara Rogers.
Hockey Queensland award winner and successful player and coach Sara Rogers.

2. Sara Rogers (hockey)

The Ipswich born and bred player and coach is an ultimate professional in everything she does.

Rogers sets the standard on the field with her fitness and positional play. She also demands commitment to training off the field, especially with the men she coaches.

The popular personal trainer captained the Hancocks women's team to grand final victory in Ipswich Hockey's "Return to Play'' A-Grade season.

Twenty four hours earlier, she coached the Hancocks men to their latest grand final triumph over Norths.

Both games were decided by a single goal.

Rogers' leadership as women's skipper and men's mentor proved crucial under pressure.

Overseeing two grand final successes was a fitting reward for the former Australian Country captain and Hockey Queensland Association Coach of the Year who is keen to further her higher level career.

 

Ipswich Force basketballer Nathan Sobey playing in the 2020 Queensland State League competition.
Ipswich Force basketballer Nathan Sobey playing in the 2020 Queensland State League competition.

1. Nathan Sobey (basketball)

It's not every day an Ipswich team welcomes an Australian player.

But Ipswich Force did and thrived on having an international recruit the calibre of Sobey for the latest Queensland State League (QSL).

Sobey had committed to helping Ipswich in this year's planned NBL1 Norths competition.

But when that was delayed due to COVID, Sobey put his hand up to assist Ipswich in the inaugural QSL.

The Brisbane Bullets sharpshooter led the way each week with most points and some amazing three-point shooting.

However, his efforts on and off the court were considerably more important. The Australian Boomers basketballer took an active role sharing his knowledge with some promising players being developed in the Ipswich basketball program.

The homegrown talents like Mitch Poulain, Kane Bishop and Lachlan Macgregor thrived as Sobey generously gave his time and knowledge. He was a popular addition to the Force roster.

"It's really good to be back playing basketball and I'm really enjoying my time there,'' Sobey said. "The club has been really good to me and my family and welcomed us.

"They are a great bunch of blokes as well that make it a lot easier and fun to play with.''

Although the Force men fell one game short of the QSL grand final, they had a stellar season winning nine of their 11 qualifying matches.

Having boosted the Ipswich team's skills and confidence, Sobey will hopefully be able to rejoin Force for next year's NBL1 North series, after he completes his NBL commitments.



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