Gympie Touch Association president Mal Bunney wants to grow the sport in Gympie at both a senior and junior level.
Gympie Touch Association president Mal Bunney wants to grow the sport in Gympie at both a senior and junior level. Craig Warhurst

Bunney talks touch and club goals

Q. Hi Mal, welcome to One on One. How long have you been involved with touch football in Gympie?

A. I have been playing touch for 25 years - since I was about 35.

Q. How did you get into the game?

A. Just through the local Kin Kin team at the time.

We went to Noosa to play for a couple of seasons and then came to Gympie.

Q. Did you play any other sport before touch?

A. Yeah I played league and cricket in Gympie from when I was about 12 or 13.

I was a Wanderers (league) man and played for Valleys in the cricket.

Q. So what position did you play for Wanderers Rugby League Club and did you win any premierships.

A. I played mainly back row or in the centres or on the wing.

We won some premierships the last one was a good one.

I can't remember what year it was but we played Reg Cannon's Rainbows mob.

Q. How long have you been president of Gympie Touch?

A. It is my second term.

Q. Why did you take on the role?

A. I just wanted to put something back into touch, try and grow the sport in Gympie and get the game going forward.

Touch has been slipping in numbers for the last 4-5 years.

We peaked at 35 teams in mixed and we are back to 18 now.

Q. Why do you think that happened?

A. It's partly due to different work situations these days.

In town we have a lot of contractors, fly-in and fly-out workers and people don't like to commit to a game every week because they are not here all the time.

Q. So your plan is to try to increase teams?

A. The goal is to increase the teams for next season starting in July.

I would love to fill our fields up with teams over the three time slots again.

I want to make touch more social.

Last year we took our grand finalists from each grade down to Noosa to play and try to increase the social aspect of the game.

Our teams were competitive against Noosa in all five grades.

I think we won two, they won two and we drew one.

It was even-stevens. It was great everyone enjoyed it.

Maryborough are interested in doing the same thing this season.

Q. So what is happening with the juniors?

A. Juniors have been a problem.

We had hoped to have them playing all year, but we will be starting up again in the second half of the season.

It's unfortunate but most kids see touch as a second sport. We have to fit around soccer, league, cricket and hockey, but after the midyear school break we'll get it going again.

Jodie Johnson still trains kids on Friday afternoons, for kids that are interested.

The goal is to turn touch into a "main sport" for kids.

Today junior touch has real representative pathways.

At school, kids can go away and represent their region, state and country.

Sarah Spacie is a good example.

She has been to Edinburgh to play for Australia in the mixed World Cup.

Touch has more pathways than sports like Aussie rules.

Q. At 59 you are still pretty fit and play good touch. Are you the oldest player at Gympie Touch?

A. No, there are quite a few older than me, you have Stan Tompkins - Vince Greaney and Bob Grant still playing; they are older than me.

Stan plays with his kids.

There are lots of father son, mother and daughter combinations playing; it is a great family sport.

It is great for fitness. People can play at what ever level they like and there are plenty of people willing to coach.

Anyone wanting to learn can come along Monday afternoons at 5pm to learn some basic game skills.

It's not rugby league, it is a different game.


Player profile

Name: Mal Bunney

Nickname: Don't have one. In Gympie everyone calls me Mal. A few guys in rep touch call me Easter for the obvious reason.

Age: 59

Born: Gympie

Favourite food: Most food, I love steak especially Limousin steaks.

Favourite TV program: Sport, that's all I really watch on TV.

Favourite music: Country and Jazz.

Sport you would play if not touch: I am getting to old for anything else so golf.

Funniest moment in sport: The funniest thing I have seen on a touch field is a guy scoring a touch down on the half way line. He made a huge break and did a big flying dive over the half way to score what he thought was a try. It was in a rep game in Coffs Harbour. A lot of people accidentally score tries over the five metre line, but not many score on the half way line, it was right in front of his subbing box.

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