Rugby league star Luke Kelly has given the credit for his success to his family and the Katherine community.
The ex-Rabbitohs player is back in town this week to support young future players at the Luke Kelly Rugby League cup.
Although he comes to town regularly for family visits, this is the first cup Kelly has been to.
“I want to give back as much as I can to the community that gave me so much,” he said.
“My dad played locally and coached me, and mum never missed a game, and I can’t thank them enough for their support.”
Although there were fewer sport opportunities when Kelly was younger, he said, Katherine is in a much better position now.
“It would definitely be possible for kids in Katherine to get noticed with all of the government partnerships happening. Gala events like (The Luke Kelly Cup) just weren’t around when I was younger,” he said.
“Kids in Katherine love footy and judging by what I’ve seen today there are some great skills here.
“I’m really impressed by the amount of young girls playing, they’ve been the stand out today. It’s been unreal.”
Kelly grew up playing all sorts of sport, but ultimately got into rugby because of his dad, who played locally and coached the team.
“I played league Friday night, Saturday morning AFL and tennis through the week.
“Like a lot of kids in small towns, I had a go at everything.
“My parents invested a lot of time in me. It’s a big responsibility for schools and parents and a big commitment,” he said.
Like many other families, Kelly’s parents traveled the Stuart Highway most weekends to allow him to further his career and be noticed.
It wasn’t until a development team saw him play in high school and his parents sent him to St Gregory College boarding school in Sydney, that his rugby career took off.
Kelly is excited to play for Katherine for the first time since he was 16, on Saturday.
With his dad coaching the team, Kelly said he is looking forward to the big game in front of friends and family.
“I’ve been lucky to play with high level players all over Australia, but for pure enjoyment nothing beats playing with mates I grew up with,” he said.
The home game on Saturday will be played against Darwin.
The first game for Kelly since his time with the Rabbitohs in September, he said he is not worried, but his lungs “will get a good test for sure”.