Passion for footy honoured
Rugby League: For more than 20 years Mick Grew has been helping nurture the next generation of rugby league players across the region.
His hard work and passion for the game has paid off, with Grew recently given life membership to Queensland School Sports 10-12 years Rugby League.
Grew's name will be familiar to students at StJoseph's Stanthorpe, where he's been heavily involved since the late 1990s.
Despite residing in Warwick, Grew made the journey south all those years ago, eager to help develop young rugby league stars.
As well as receiving the life membership, Grew serves as the deputy chairman of the Queensland School Sports 10-12 years Rugby League body as well.
"To get life membership I suppose you need about 20 years in school rugby league, at least 10 years involvement at state carnivals and be on the governing body as a delegate or coach,” Grew said.
"I've had about 22 years' involvement. Been involved on the Granite Belt since I got involved at St Joseph's.”
He's also heavily involved in Darling Downs representative footy.
"Before I got into schools my sons played and made Darling Downs rugby league,” Grew said.
"I suppose that's where I first saw it all happening.
"I was working at Warwick Tafe college then.
"Once I got started in the schools and got involved with Dave Fleming at St Joseph's, I think I applied 19years ago and got the manager's job with Darling Downs under-12s.
"The first side I took was to Gympie in 2001.”
Since then he's been involved in 18 state carnivals, only missing one.
He's also served as a coach with Queensland representative sides between 2011-14.
"That's sort of the pinnacle of what we're doing with local kids - trying to get them to that level,” Grew said.
He's in the midst of preparations for the under-12s national rugby league carnival coming up in little more than a month.
Grew first took up a role at St Joseph's 21 years ago.
"I first got a job there back in 1998 and got involved in development cup stuff and quickly got involved with Darling Downs,” he said.
"I'd been there about four to five years before I got involved in that stuff.
"I do health and physical education and sport in the primary school. Until about five years ago I had a classroom job.”
But now his role has a little more freedom, playing footy out on the oval where he feels at home.
Grew believes talent across the state - and locally - has improved since his early days.
"I think they've certainly gotten better,” he said.
"Partly due to the fact they've got a lot of teachers all across the state involved in rugby league now.
"The Darling Downs is very fortunate to have a lot of good people spread around. A lot on the ground, very passionate and who put time into developing kids' skills.”
Grew was awarded his life membership at a centenary dinner in Brisbane, celebrating 100 years of primary school rugby league.
On the night a Queensland schools under-12s team ofthe century was announced.
Some familiar names make up the mix - Darren Lockyer, Wendell Sailor, Johnathan Thurston, Gordon Tallis and Wally Lewis.
Grew caught up with Lewis on the night, with the pair facing each other for several years in junior footy when Lewis played for Valleys and Grew for Wests in Brisbane.
With Grew's middle son, Matt, now coaching Warwick Cowboys A grade, he intends to continue his involvement in rugby league for years to come.