BRISBANE Broncos Sam Thaiday topped the bill at the Ecco Ripley community's first Ipswich Jets Junior Development Clinic held last weekend (April 9).
The event, part of Ecco Ripley's first Family Footy Festival, was met with an overwhelming show of support from local residents from Ipswich, Logan and greater Brisbane.
More than 150 children pounced on the opportunity to develop their rugby league skills and meet one of the game's biggest stars, Llewellyn Motors ambassador Sam Thaiday, while hundreds of people turned out to enjoy the associated festivities at Ecco Ripley Brooking Parklands on Sunday.
Hosted by Sekisui House, the developer of the $2 billion Ecco Ripley masterplanned community and Ripley Town Centre, the free clinic was inundated by eager registrations and was fully booked within a week of being publicised.
Ecco Ripley Sales Manager Scott Blaney said that the strong response to the event highlighted a deep enthusiasm for footy and sport in general throughout the surrounding area.
"It reflects a strong sporting culture and the demand for more quality sporting experiences and infrastructure across the Ripley Valley and Ipswich,” Mr Blaney said.
"Aside from encouraging and inspiring the next generation of sporting achievers, we hope the event promotes the development of new sporting clubs, activities and facilities across this rapidly growing area.
"The Ipswich region is a renowned rugby league nursery and we hope to see more footy teams emerge as the population continues to grow.”
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale voiced his support for another rugby league team within the broader Ipswich region.
"The Ripley Valley and broader western corridor is one of Australia's rugby league heartlands, so we'd love to see another rugby league team and more community facilities to support the code,” Mayor Pisasale said.
Ipswich Jets CEO Jason Cubit wasn't surprised by the overwhelming response from the public to the Junior Development Clinic.
"Ipswich is a breeding ground for rugby players and the Junior Development Clinic reflects the love for the sport locally,” Mr Cubit said.
The free clinic for children aged 5 to 15, led by former New Zealand representative player David Fa'alogo, focused on basic league skills.
It was conducted in partnership with the Llewellyn Motors Ipswich Jets, National Rugby League, and followed a key sponsorship deal between property developer Sekisui House and the high-profile Ipswich rugby league club.
Footy fans also had the opportunity to meet Llewellyn Motors ambassador and Brisbane Broncos star Sam Thaiday after the clinic.
In addition to the Junior Development Clinic, the family and footy fun day included several free activities that spanned across the four-hectare Brooking Parklands, including a rock climbing wall, a jumping castle, face painting, and live music from well-known local band Rumblefish, followed by twilight movies that were held in the park.
A number of food trucks were also on site adding to the festival atmosphere.