NRL Ambassadors share motivation
NRL Community Ambassadors Petero Civoniceva, Ruan Sims and Justin Hodges have identified the chance to give back to country and rural communities as a key part of their motivation for being involved with the program.
The number of ambassadors jumped from 25 in 2015 to 40 in 2016 and Civoniceva said it was humbling just to be involved alongside the other great names.
"It's been a great transition coming out of fulltime footy. We can have a real positive impact for the programs we take to schools, clubs and the wider community. We leverage off the profile we've been fortunate enough to build in the game," Civoniceva said.
"I've been fortunate enough to travel out to western Queensland this year with communities that are doing it tough with the drought. Thank goodness they had a bit of rain over the last few weeks but just to go out there and bring some positivity in delivering our programs, it takes their mind off the hardships that they're going through. It's all because of this profile we've been able to build as a player within the game."
Sims – part of a trailblazing Jillaroos outfit that has in the last year seen free-to-air match coverage on Channel Nine for the first time – praised the NRL for its work in providing a springboard for female players to have the opportunity to become role models.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity and wanting to give back wherever possible," Sims said.
It is important for her to give back in part because she and her brother, Knights forward Tariq Sims, had had some serious injury dramas in their careers which she said stops you functioning normally in everyday life and also carries a stigma with it.
"We need to break that down as much as possible and using the NRL as a vehicle to do that is hugely important and we have such a big voice, not just within the NRL community but the wider community in general," Sims said.
"The NRL is a snapshot or microcosm of what society is and I think it's very important for us to use that as positively as we can."
Former Brisbane skipper Hodges, entering his first year of retirement, said his main motivation was to give back.
"I come from Cairns and we didn't have much exposure to the talent we have here [among the ambassadors] so for me I just wanted to hopefully give back to my home town and other places as well," he said.
He added he can clearly remember one of the few occasions the Broncos came up north when he was young.
"The Broncos in '88, seeing 'Alfie' [Allan Langer] and all those guys, being a little Murri with a runny nose trying to get their autograph – there were a lot more kids than me running round there but I'm really passionate about giving back and hopefully I can change someone's life.
"This game has given me so much and it's only right that I give back to someone else."