In a week that saw Tweed Seagulls building new female dressing rooms and club gymnasium, the club was also laying foundations on the field with the welcomed return of the Cyril Connell Challenge for 2021.

Naming rights sponsor Campbell Constructions Co are constructing the new facility, which cements the club’s commitment to female rugby league.

Elsewhere in the club, the RJ Beaufils & Son Auswide Bank Mal Meninga squad recently had an impressive outing against Gold Coast neighbours Burleigh Bears in a high-quality pre-season hit-out at Piggabeen Oval, where the works had commenced.

In an important week for the club, Tweed Seagulls celebrated the start of the season with a business networking breakfast which catered for more than 200 guests to thank existing sponsors and welcome new partners after what was a challenging year not only for rugby league, but the whole community.

The breakfast highlighted the importance of the game in bringing the community together by celebrating the contribution of life-member Tom Searle, who passed last year.

Gold Coast Titans head coach Justin Holbrook was joined by two additional special guests in Ben Ikin and Preston Campbell, who were both ‘discovered’ by Searle.

Affectionately remembered as ‘the Lion’, Searle dedicated more than 50 years of his life to rugby league, in the district and beyond.

Both Campbell and Ikin went from young hopefuls recruited by ‘the Lion’ to not only have stellar careers on the field, but retain their status after retiring due to their unstinting commitment to the community and our great game.

It was only appropriate then that Tarryn Aiken should be one of the Tom Searle Scholarships’ inaugural recipients named in honour of the great man.

As a young Bilmabil junior and Tweed River High student, Aiken returned to the game when the Gold Coast Airport got behind the Seagulls’ bid to enter the BHP Premiership.

Aiken’s meteoric rise includes being an NRLW Premiership winner and player of the match in the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons State of Origin victory which was broadcast to more than one million viewers.

Her story captured the ‘Seagulls to Heroes’ theme of the breakfast in a week that also saw six of her team mates selected in the Women’s Indigenous All Stars team.

Ben Ikin  and Preston Campbell with members of the Tweed Seagulls BHP Premiership team. Photo: Tweed Seagulls
Ben Ikin and Preston Campbell with members of the Tweed Seagulls BHP Premiership team. Photo: Tweed Seagulls

These are what dreams are made of and are the same dreams that the Cyril Connell trialists were pursuing when they took the field at Piggabeen for the first time.

They are the same dreams that bring together players, coaches and support staff, and a great family of sponsors to build a new future.

Together, they create a strong foundation for success.