Bronson Harrison has played over 180 NRL games in a career spanning 10 years including Four Nations and World Cup victories with New Zealand. This is his second column for NRL.com.
Grand final week is here and all the awards nights have started as we celebrate the Greatest Game of All. We are acknowledging everybody involved in Rugby League and all the contributions these great people in our game have made throughout the year.
And after such a great response and personal feedback of support for our initial column, we have decided to keep the Open Mic on and continue to spread the word of the good deeds of the people involved in our game.
This week we thought there is no better place to begin than with the One Community Awards. If you don’t know much about the Ken Stephen Medal, it is presented to the player who is seen to be a great role model on and off the field, who devotes their time to their community, youth work and or charity. There have been some great recipients of this award such as Wayne Pearce, Andrew Ettingshausen, Mark Coyne, Peter Sterling, Hazem El Masri, Nathan Hindmarsh and David Peachey.
I have seen first-hand the good deeds of some of these players, as I have been captained by two of this year’s finalists. Both Ben Creagh and Terry Campese seem cut from the same cloth, as the love for their club and community shine through them as great ambassadors and more importantly, great people. I am a big believer in doing good things for people, which then subconsciously helps the recipient to pass the goodwill on.
Certainly when I see what these people do in their everyday lives it’s enough to definitely start believing in humanity. They might not be perfect in every aspect but I know they make a huge difference to people’s lives.
Terry Campese won the 2013 Ken Stephen Medal, but by no means has he had it easy; not only has he recovered from a two-year injury period which would flatten most people’s careers, but he also endured what I would imagine to be one of the toughest years anyone could ask for with what the Raiders have been through this year.
Now I am a bit biased when it comes to my good mate Campo and that is probably because I know that his commitment to people off the field is second to none. If you are a young kid coming through the grades, or new to the club, or even a long-serving clubman, I have seen him put his hand out to help – and I suppose that is what I want to highlight, because that is why he won the medal. His passion for the club is unwavering and he always puts the team first.
Campo helped raise more than $100,000 for his own foundation that he set up two years ago while recovering from his first knee operation (which ironically probably helped him through his own tough times). The Terry Campese Foundation supports seven other local charities and I know he has helped out many different individual cases as well, which is why I will continue to support his causes. He has a great network of people who continue to support him throughout the community and he acknowledges them all and helps return the favour any chance he gets.
We had some great feedback to the column last week; I’d like to share one of the stories with you, from the Principal of Willmot Public School:
Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Bryce Cartwright work part-time as School Learning Support Officers at Willmot Public School, a Kindergarten-to-Year-6 school in the Mt Druitt area of outer western Sydney.
The money isn't huge for this work but the fulfilment they experience is. They work in classrooms with small groups of students, or individuals, to help them develop their literacy and numeracy skills. They are highly valued in classrooms but their commitment is also on display in the playground.
The boys have their morning tea and lunch breaks earlier than the students so they can be outside at recess and lunchtime with them, throwing around a basketball or running the in-school touch football comp. They also keep an eye out for students who may be on their own or looking a bit lonely and they get them involved in things. The kids just love them.
Reagan and Bryce make a difference. I think your column is just a wonderful idea - proactive, so I wanted to support it.
Thanks for the feedback! As an additional note, Bryce Cartwright won the 2013 Dally M Holden Cup Player of the Year award last Tuesday night. So he is doing really well both on and off the field!
If you would like to share your story, email us here: RLopenMic@nrl.com.au – the best stories will be shared via this column where possible. I’m really looking forward to hearing the great things being done in and around the game, from the NRL to the grassroots!
Follow Bronson Harrison on twitter.