Cronulla Sharks forward Sam Tagataese has been nominated for the 2017 Ken Stephen Medal.
While most Rugby League players might be tempted to spend their days off nursing a variety of bumps and bruises, Sam prefers to sort, pack and deliver food hampers to the communities across Sydney who need it most.
When Sam joined up with Borderless Communities in 2017, he didn't simply become an ambassador but also an integral part of the team.
On a working day, Sam will trade in his usual set of wheels for the Sharks' gear van, allowing for more capacity to collect and deliver stock. He gathers what he needs from local food suppliers and books a function room at the Sharks League Club so the team can get stuck into packing the hampers. Sam is involved in the process from start to finish. Sam is a huge asset, in every sense, to Borderless Communities as they fight to provide their members with relief from poverty, sickness and distress.
For many, a weekly commitment such as that might be enough but Sam isn't content to stop there. Determined to make a difference wherever possible, the Samoan star is a regular fixture at the club's Sharks Have Heart community appearances and school visits, as well as being heavily involved in Sharks Tomorrow Stars, Island Time and Footy Fever; three mentoring programs aimed at Indigenous and Pacific Islander Youth. A confident speaker and valuable role model, Sam is a powerful advocate for mental wellbeing and, not only an ambassador for the local Miranda Headspace, but just completed his third year as an NRL State of Mind Ambassador.
Passionate, self-sufficient, and an exemplary team player, last year’s Telstra Premiership winner is a stand-out candidate for the 2017 Ken Stephen Medal.
The Ken Stephen Medal
Ken Stephen was an administrator who devoted 28 years to the NSWRL in various capacities. He retired shortly before his death in 1988. The Ken Stephen Medal recognises the efforts of an NRL player, who has not only achieved on the field, but has also committed time off the field to community projects.
A player is nominated by their NRL club for their involvement in charity work, youth development or community support. The nominated player will have consistently demonstrated their commitment to making a difference in their community and be seen as a role model in this area at their NRL club.
The NRL Community Awards recognise Rugby League's unsung heroes for the tireless work they do to support the game they love. From volunteers and teachers, to players at a first-grade level, the awards pause to honour, reflect and congratulate those who make a positive difference for many in their communities, week after week.