SPORTS MADNESS: Cara Gibson, 17, Jack Howard, 17, Scott McSherry, Hudson Camilleri, 16, and Hannah Matsen, 16 are excited for the Confraternity Carnival to come to Mackay next year.
SPORTS MADNESS: Cara Gibson, 17, Jack Howard, 17, Scott McSherry, Hudson Camilleri, 16, and Hannah Matsen, 16 are excited for the Confraternity Carnival to come to Mackay next year. Nick Wright

Huge sporting event to provide major boost to economy

THE roar of a rousing crowd is something Jack Howard will never forget. In fact the entirety of this year's Confraternity Carnival is an experience he will cherish forever.

It has fuelled his excitement for when the showcase makes its way to Mackay in 2021.

Capacity crowds greeted the 17-year-old St Patrick's College lock and his team at Bundaberg's 2019 spectacle. He said the way spectators interacted with each game was incredible - particularly as his side lifted the Bob Lindner Trophy.

"I'm stoked, and really impressed how Confro changed my life. It's such an incomparable experience to anything else," Howard said.

"It just brought me closer with all my mates and gave me memories I'll never forget. It's an unreal experience."

The Confraternity Carnival will come to the sugar city in two years, for the first time since 1996.

But this will be the inaugural instance of Mackay also hosting the Queensland Independent Secondary Schools Netball Carnival simultaneously.

Given the proximity of BB Print Stadium to the Mackay Netball courts, Bridge Road will be inundated with passionate sport enthusiasts throughout the first week of July 2021.

Prominent sporting organisations such as the NRL, QRL, Mackay Cutters and Mackay Basketball Association have all got on board to support the initiative.

Mercy College assistant principal Scott McSherry has been part of the driving force to bring the event to the region.

This year's carnival in Bundaberg featured 48 rugby league teams and 64 netball sides, and McSherry believed this would bring up to 5000 people to Mackay.

He said the financial impacts were numerous - from tourism to local businesses - and the event would inject up to $6 million into the region's economy.

"I remember being down here as a year 10 student in 1987 watching the carnival back then - I think it was 16 schools," McSherry said.

"The environment was terrific. When I started at Mercy, to get involved with rugby league ... to get to those carnivals and experience the atmosphere, is not something that will ever die - in fact it's only getting bigger.

"I've got schools already ringing up to find the best places for accommodation, even though it's two years out. That's an indication of things to come.

"We're in for a bit of a ride here; it's going to be a lot of work but we're up for the challenge."



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