Cowboy calls for other players to set example
COWBOYS forward Tom Gilbert has called on more NRL stars to use their profile for the greater good, urging his fellow players not to get caught up in the fame and headlines that follow them.
The 21-year-old has taken his role as a professional athlete off the field, earning a nomination this year for the Ken Stephens Medal in recognition of his community work with Brighter Lives.
Gilbert said at times rugby league stars could get caught up in how fortunate they are
to be in the position they are in. It is why he began his volunteer work in the first place; to stress that message upon himself. He said because of the profile he, his teammates and rivals had, they had a responsibility to be role models in their respective communities.
“We have so many young people who look up to us, our actions, and how they can be preserved is so vital,” Gilbert said.
“If people are doing it tough with their health or having a bad day or misbehaving, we can play a huge role in benefiting the younger generation, making sure they are in good stead and motivating them.
“We can do that more so than normal people because of our profile.”
Through the Townsville Hospital and Health Service charity, Gilbert helps raise money for the children and cancer wards, while also visiting patients and the mental health clinics in Kirwan.
A firebrand prop on the field, off it he has been somewhat softened witnessing how so many within the Townsville community have struggled but continued to fight.
A frequent theme of NRL off seasons has been the negative headlines. Even in the fallout of this year’s grand final, the Panthers and Storm have been forced to address issues.
Gilbert said it was crucial for him to ensure he was setting a standard within North Queensland, capitalising on his status to help those who have in turn so passionately supported him in his career.
“I think it’s just given me a sense of how lucky I really am as a footy player,’’ he said. “The struggles I have are footy struggles and it could be much worse. I thought the hospital was a good way to get a grip of that reality for some people.
“Everyone in my family is in good health, so it makes me appreciate the things I’ve got right now to be able to go out and enjoy my life with nothing holding me back.”