Pi­rates mas­ter new way to play game they love

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TRENT SLAT­TER

THE love of rugby league has never faded for Paul Musumeci.

Musumeci is part of the Townsville Pi­rates Masters Rugby League Club, which runs an an­nual car­ni­val for play­ers aged 35 years and over to re­live their glory days on the footy field.

Musumeci stopped play­ing com­pet­i­tively in 2006, but he turned out for his old Mt Isa team at a car­ni­val on the Gold Coast in 2014 and from there his love of the game blos­somed again.

He formed the Pi­rates along with Nathan Sc­holes in 2015 and their gala day has al­most dou­bled in size with a record eight teams and 129 play­ers tak­ing part in this year’s event.

“At first we’d just set up a game when we could get enough play­ers to get it go­ing and it’s built from there,” Musumeci said.

“We’ve got about five lo­cal teams that play and we try to give them at least two or three games a year at lo­cal league games and we have our big gala day in Septem­ber ev­ery year with teams com­ing from out of town.”

Masters rugby league is played with mod­i­fied rules to pro­tect play­ers who may not be able to han­dle the full con­tact with a strong fo­cus on the ca­ma­raderie with team­mates.

“We had a guy come down to the gala day from Cairns and he was 70 years old and still run­ning around play­ing,” Musumeci said.

“There’s guys here lo­cally that it had been 10 to 15 years since I’ve played footy with them. You’re catch­ing back up with old mates as if you never parted com­pany.”

The Pi­rates club has also be­come about more than just rugby league af­ter mak­ing a do­na­tion to the Townsville Men’s Shed fol­low­ing last month’s gala day.

Musumeci said the club was able to raise more than $ 1400 through signed jersey auc­tions and he hoped the Pi- rates could con­tinue to sup­port the lo­cal com­mu­nity through masters footy. “The Men’s Shed do great work in the com­mu­nity and we were look­ing specif­i­cally at men’s health be­cause ob­vi­ously we’re a bunch of old men play­ing masters footy,” he said.

“Like any as­so­ci­a­tion we have a small but very com­mit­ted group of vol­un­teers sell­ing raf­fles and as­sist­ing with the set up, and also play­ing most games through­out the year.”

Musumeci said the club was al­ways look­ing for new play­ers.

Any­one in­ter­ested can get in con­tact through the Townsville Pi­rates Masters Face­book page.

Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

STRENGTH TO STRENGTH: Townsville Pi­rates Masters stal­wart Paul Musumeci is help­ing the club move into a bright new fu­ture.

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