Legend of the game changing lives every day

Rugby league legend Preston Campbell - described by Queensland Maroons great Darren Lockyer as "a true legend of the game" - has been busy post football creating a legacy to be proud of. 

The former Cronulla Sharks, Penrith Panthers and Gold Coast Titans speedster established the Preston Campbell Foundation in 2016 to develop programs and opportunities which "inspire and mentor participants to achieve their aspirations and dreams". 

The 42-year-old has done this by "connecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their culture, sense of place and well being".

Campbell's work centres on the key issues of mental health and helping all children aspire to a better future and, in Queensland alone, has taken him to Bedourie, Lockhart River, Barcaldine, Thursday Island, Goondiwindi, Toomelah and all points in between. 

The Foundation will, on September 13, hold an NRL Finals Preview Breakfast at Brisbane's Pullman Hotel, which will - in part - celebrate Campbell's work and what he has achieved. 

Lockyer, Petero Civoniceva, Andrew Ryan, Anthony Laffranchi and Clinton Toopi will all be there to support one of the true gentlemen of the game; and Queensland Rugby League director Ben Ikin will host the event. 

“Preston had a remarkable NRL career playing 267 games, winning a premiership with the Panthers and being awarded the game’s highest individual honour, the Dally M Medal, in 2001," Lockyer said, adding "as impressive as this sounds, it is his standing in the community that makes him a true legend of the game".

Preston Campbell in action for the Gold Coast Titans in 2007. Photo: NRL Images
Preston Campbell in action for the Gold Coast Titans in 2007. Photo: NRL Images

“Preston’s drive and vision was at the heart of the All Stars game, which to this day inspires and changes the lives of hundreds of kids – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – who benefit from the programs it has created.

“Preston’s commitment to community continues through the work of his Foundation and his continued contribution to the NRL.

“I was proud to stand beside him at the first All Stars game and am equally proud to support him at the breakfast."

Ikin said he had known Campbell a long time, and what made him super special was "he's always had this beautiful humility about him". 

"But despite his softly spoken and subtle ways off the field, he went 100 miles an hour on it - fast, busy and brilliant, geez he was good to watch," Ikin said. 

Preston's rugby league career was magnificent, but his achievements and contribution outside the game are as good as it gets.

"Preston is changing lives, and his message of hope is building a better future for us all. It is my honour to not only call him a friend, but a personal inspiration in all he does."

Civoniceva, who works alongside Campbell with the Foundation and Deadly Choices, said he "has the ability to engage with everybody from groups of young kids, to community elders and government representatives".

“Presto has the ability  to make every person he meets feel special and that their opinion is important," Civoniceva said. 

“Working with him makes me feel as if I am helping to make a difference which is what makes supporting the Foundation something I am proud to do.

“He was a champion on the field – he is a legend off it."

Campbell said he was humbled by the support of the Foundation's first corporate function. 

“I know they are motivated by the kids that will be helped by any support gained through the event and to grow awareness of wellbeing and health issues confronting many of our communities," Campbell said. 

“They are all great role models in their own right and I thank them for giving of their time in support of the Foundation.

“The morning will also one of great entertainment with Darren Lockyer and Petero being able to provide a unique Queensland perspective on finals footy balanced by Andrew Ryan, Anthony Laffranchi and myself providing a New South Wales view.

“Toops will bring a distinct Kiwi flavour to the event with Benny Ikin being the appointed ‘referee’ and MC for the event."

Campbell said "the work of the Foundation focuses on a better future of all our kids and aims to provide them a message of hope in their personal journeys".

“Youth suicide is a crisis that confronts all sections of our society with Indigenous communities sadly over-represented," Campbell said. 

“Our programs aim to provide improved health and wellbeing outcomes in First Nations communities through connection to cultural identity as part of the solution.

“Any support by individuals or groups will be gratefully received and acknowledged.”

Tickets to the breakfast cost $100 or $800 for a table of eight; for more information, or to book, email info@pcfoundation.org.au or phone 0418 196 603.