Rugby league legend Preston Campbell believes "rugby league is a vehicle for change" and he is determined to make sure as many children as possible benefit from the game.
Since hanging up his boots, Campbell, who launched the Preston Campbell Foundation in 2016 to develop programs and opportunities which "inspire and mentor participants to achieve their aspirations and dreams", has worked tirelessly in the community space.
The former Cronulla Sharks, Penrith Panthers and Gold Coast Titans gun, and Queensland legends Mal Meninga, Greg Inglis and Steve Renouf, will discuss "how we can all be a vehicle for change" at the Preston Campbell Foundation Icons of Change breakfast at the Sofitel Broadbeach on February 21.
The breakfast, celebrating 10 years of the NRL All-Stars concept Campbell created, will be hosted by Yvonne Sampson.
Renouf said Campbell was an icon of the game.
“I named Preston as one of the all-time influential Indigenous players in the game alongside the likes of Arthur Beetson and Johnathan Thurston,” Renouf said.
While Renouf said what Campbell achieved in his time as a rugby league player was inspirational enough, it was his post-football career at the helm of the Preston Campbell Foundation that was having the most life-changing effects.
“To give you an idea of his influence, I went out to St George in western Queensland where an Aboriginal mum introduced me to her 10-year-old son," Renouf said.
“His name was Preston Thurston. I think that says it all really.”
Immortal Meninga said his respect for Campbell was sky-high.
“Anyone that has had anything to do with Preston knows what a special human being he is,” Meninga said.
“Yes, he did a lot of things in his career that a lot of people don’t get to experience – like winning a premiership and winning the Dally M Medal.
“But it is the legacy he is creating for the game, his people and his community that is really the most inspirational part of his career.
“The work he does with the Preston Campbell Foundation is amazing, and genuinely changes the lives of other people. There cannot be any greater impact than that.”
Meninga said it was because of Campbell’s selfless support of the community that so many were quick to support him in his work.
“The Icons of Change Breakfast will be a great event, and I am proud to be a part of it – to support Preston and the work he is doing with the Preston Campbell Foundation,” Meninga said.
“I have always been an admirer of Preston, but since coming to the Titans, I have been able to witness firsthand the incredible love and respect that the club and the community have for him.
“Being asked to speak at this breakfast, on a topic and for an organisation so close to Preston was an easy choice to make, and I hope all rugby league fans – especially those on the Gold Coast – will join me in supporting this wonderful event.”
Inglis said his admiration for his cousin as a rugby league player and driver of change in local communities made him leap at the chance to be involved in the Preston Campbell Foundation’s Icons of Change Breakfast.
“You see what Preston has done. He is a role model for all of us,” Inglis said.
“He uses his profile and his name the best he can, and the amount of work he does in community is unbelievable.Greg Inglis Queensland legend
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".
"I want to give back to the game which has given me so much," Campbell said.
"I've seen firsthand the difference rugby league can make to people's lives, developing champions no matter where they come from.
"To me, rugby league is a vehicle for change and to inspire, whether you play or support the game."
Tickets to the breakfast cost $130 or $1250 for a table of ten; for more information, or to book, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (07) 5656 5650.
All proceeds from the event will support Preston Campbell Foundation programs.