Batchfire backs Striker soccer team for international debut
October 17, 2023
Callide Mine paramedic and former professional soccer player Paul Quarmby took the local under-12 team to the global stage, made possible with Batchfire’s sponsorship.
Paul runs the Striker Football Academy, a local program offering elite coaching to young people interested in taking their game to the next level.
Recently his star Striker team was invited overseas to play in the Borneo Football Cup, with Batchfire stepping in as major sponsor to cover costs.
“It’s just unreal, I can’t thank Batchfire enough for it,” Paul said.
Just like that the team was all set to head to Malaysia for the prestigious cup, held in September – what an opportunity!
Before becoming a paramedic, Paul was a professional soccer player in the UK where he spent more than a decade representing various top clubs.
“I went over on a scholarship at 17 years old, and I was there for about 12 years,” he said.
“I played for a number of clubs around England during that time. Since being back here, though, I’ve focused more on the coaching side.”
Paul ended up settling in Biloela, these days balancing work as a paramedic at Batchfire and running the esteemed Striker program.
“They’ve probably never had this level of coaching out here and so I’m focused on continuing to give these juniors the opportunity,” Paul said.
“I’ve noticed here in Biloela the kids have lacked technical coaching; the fundamental skills being shown to them just weren’t there.
“I even built a football pitch in my backyard that’s floodlit, so the kids come and train both here and at the school.”
With the Striker counting down the trip to Malaysia, Batchfire held a site visit to show them around the Callide Mine for a day and take their mind off the game.
Batchfire Production Operator, Trainer and Assessor, Adam Burling even volunteered to come in on Saturday to show the players around in the bus, many of whom are now interested in one day pursuing a career in the resources industry.
“A couple of them are now saying they want to be dragline operators! A lot of them have been around mining or come from mining families, but it isn’t every day you get to come onto site and see it all up close,” Paul said.
Borneo and beyond
The Borneo Football Cup is a Youth Tournament held in Sabah (formerly Borneo), Malaysia, each year with eight teams from Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia competing for the title.
Competition is held across five days, with each team playing eight games in total – in scorching 35-degree heat, mind you! This gave our home side the upper hand, being well acquainted with Queensland’s summer heat.
“We are used to playing in hot conditions, but it’s the humidity over there that makes the difference. We were using ice vests and Hydralite powder to make sure nobody suffered dehydration,” Paul said, his experience as a paramedic helping combat the risks of extreme heat.
The team started their journey with a friendly match in Sydney, before heading onto Malaysia, where they would lace up the boots for two games each day.
“They came out and won the first game, then tied the second against the team that ended up winning the tournament,” Paul said, describing an incredible first day on the pitch.
Across the next four days the boys did Biloela proud, placing second in their group before heading into the finals where they played the top teams from across Asia.
“The guys placed fourth overall, which was a huge achievement. It just shows that if a team from Biloela can come forth in an Asian tournament, then we have serious talent here.”
One budding regional player was even offered the chance to play in the Premiere League down in Sydney, a result of Paul’s sporting connections showing a keen interest in our local talent.
“There was a number of ex-Socceroos over there that are really close mates and, as a result, one of the kids got an offer to go down to Sydney and play and trial with the Premier League down there,” Paul said.