Sitting on the plane I find myself writing another blog; something about writing that is therapeutic for me - I used to hate it at school, now I jump at the bit to write my feelings down or about an event I am presenting to.
Today I am off to Newcastle for the Nation of Origin Rugby League carnival here I am the ambassador.
In processing my thoughts, I am proud to wear the tag 'Ambassador' for this event as it sees youth from right across the state representing their Aboriginal Nations ie like mine Wiradjuri.
I am proud because my journey could well have been so different.
During my early NRL playing days, I developed quite a heavy addiction with Alcoholic binge drinking and recreational drug use & prescription drug abuse.
It is coming up to the point that I have been 11 years clean and free from alcohol and drugs; so it is with enormous pride I walk with when asked to be an ambassador.
I wasn't chosen as an ambassador for a carnival for a police citizens youth club (PCYC) carnival because I gave away alcohol and drugs, I was chosen because I am seen as a mentor and someone who kids can look up to because of my path and some things I have achieved.
There are many other Aboriginal men out there who have played many more games than me in the NRL and won many more boxing fights but it is the hours, days & weeks I commit myself to mentoring youth that puts me in line to be seen as a positive person. I know 100%, there is no way on earth that I would be spending the time that I do helping youth and adults to become better people - because during my days of alcoholism and and substance abuse, my life consisted of lies, late nights and a struggle to help myself to be positive person! So how on earth could I be a role model for anyone else...
My days of living a clean and sober life I have learnt and uncovered many things about myself - I have gotten to know the real me. A man I am proud to say that kids can look up to about living a positive life of helping others.
I am looking forward to interacting with some talented kids from right across NSW, each representing their native areas of origin.
In reflection I'll share some great advice I received from my sponsor (mentor) when I first walked into AA. He told me;
'It doesn't matter if you are an NRL player, a pilot, a cab driver or a toilet cleaner, you are going to be better at whatever you do if you give away the drink'
When I was drinking and taking drugs 11yrs ago I wasn't someone people would inspire to be;
Today, I'm not perfect, but I am a mentor, an ambassador, a leader & a role model for many young people - all because I choose to live alcohol & drug free. My life has improved beyond comparison and my sponsors words were correct.
If I can do it - so can you