Despite it being the off-season, Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker has channelled his dazzling form on the field to his charity work in the off-season, volunteering his time during the break to help inspire the next generation of NRL players.
Walker will be visiting a variety of communities to promote a healthy lifestyle and good wellbeing, and it isn’t the only time the Country representative has put in volunteer work.
“I’ll be doing ‘Tackling Indigenous Smoking’ in Newcastle at the Wobbigal Medical Centre and I’ll go up to different schools and talk about the negative effects of smoking,” Walker said.
“I’ve done a few throughout the season, about two or three where you talk about your journey, what it takes to get there, that it can’t involve smoking and that it involves living a healthy lifestyle and changing people’s mindset on what they want to do in life.
“We went up to Grafton as well to the medical centre up there and gave away some shirts to people who were coming in and getting a health check, and we went to Maclean to one of the schools on their rugby league training day so it was a big couple of days up there.”
Being a local from Northern New South Wales, Walker cited his close relationship with his family and the community as a major factor in his charity work alongside teammate Angus Crichton.
“I lived in Maclean when I was three until I was seven years old, and we moved about an hour away but we still kept in contact with a lot of family there and I’m still pretty close to a lot of people up there.
“When we were younger we would go there in the holidays to Yamba, I spent a lot of my childhood in those two towns so I thought I’d go up there with another NRL player to see the kids up there. They don’t get that opportunity too often and there was a massive turnout, I was on my knee for about an hour and a half signing autographs for the kids.”
The star five-eighth did concede that juggling volunteering and family commitments is no easy feat, but did state that he would be spending plenty of time with his young family throughout the break.
“It’s hard for me to get away because my partner just started working fulltime, my kids are in primary school and day care and in the holidays I’d like to go away with them but if anything comes up in the next few weeks I’m more than happy to put my hand up.
“I try to get home once or twice a year, I haven’t planned anything but I could go up for a spontaneous trip but nothing is planned at the moment.
“I’m going up to Wellington on the 17th for a presentation to give some awards out to the Wellington Cowboys junior club, my partner’s family are from around there and they asked me to come out and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I haven’t really thought about it but I’m looking forward to kicking my legs up and spending some time with my family whether it’s up to the Central Coast or Newcastle. My brother could be playing in a grand final in a few weeks so we’ve got a few options.”
Walker expressed his desire to continue to inspire the next generation, and the satisfaction that comes with helping guide young communities through his charity work.
“I think it’s very important. I say it all the time but I love going out to see kids and help to put smiles on their faces.
“You see the joy they get and anything you say they will listen to so if I can help inspire them to keep chasing their dream and change their mindset they can be anything in the world if they put their mind to it and I really enjoy doing it.”