It won't make the news to most of you reading this, but the local papers in Townsville and Cairns have reported today on the introduction of the 'Frank Farina Shield' for the North Queensland Derby played in Townsville as part of the National Premier League.
It's really an honour to have been asked to give this award. When Northern Fury Chairman, Rabieh Krayem, approached me about it, I was more than happy to be able to do something to contribute to football in the North Queensland region.
It’s been a long time since I played football there, but it's where I grew up and learned my football and played my first professional game. My wife, Julie, is Cairns born-and-bred; some members of my family (including my mum) still live in North Queensland; and we have strong and continuing links through our broader family connections.
But it is the place of my youth. And while we can make our home anywhere in the world - and I have had the great privilege of doing so through football - North Queensland is the home in my heart.
I know that the rivalry between Townsville and Cairns is fierce - although the cities is about 350km, when they meet in any sport it truly is a a traditional 'derby' atmosphere.
What I really like about the concept behind the 'Frank Farina Shield' is that it's not just about the senior team, but the entire club and how they go on the day. The two clubs - Northern Fury and FNQ Heat - not only have their NPL teams, but also two women's teams and youth teams from U-12 through to U-20s. I think it's fantastic to include the younger teams. Their endeavour is just as important to winning the 'Frank Farina Shield' each year as is the NPL team or the senior women's team.
I hope this also inspires young players from an important growth region to aim for their dreams.
There have been many fine players from North Queensland: Ray Junna, Manis Lamond, Steve Corica, Glenn Gwynne, Graham Ross, Kasey Wehrman, Wayne Srhoj, Shane Steffanuto, Michael Thwaite, Zenon Caravella, Mitch Langerak, Adam Sarota, Kim Carroll and Ashley Spina to name a few.
My advice to those who want to do the same as those great players, who have contributed significantly to football in Australia, is to hold the dream, work hard, respect others, never stop learning and, importantly, remain humble.
Northern Fury and FNQ Heat will meet in Round 1 of the NPL on 1-2 March in Townsville. If you can be there, get along.
I look forward to visiting when my commitments in 'Mexico' permit. :)
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Note from Frank
It's a game of opinions and I've always thought everyone's entitled to theirs.