Bulldogs' Elliott happy to be a role model

There's been a lot of recent debate about whether athletes should be considered role models, but according to Bulldogs back-rower Adam Elliott, there are no two ways about it. 

The Tathra Sea Eagles junior is happy to go about his business quietly, but that doesn't lessen the impact he's had on generation next; especially those from an Indigenous background. 

Elliott regularly goes back to his home town to visit the local primary school in a bid to connect with students, while he's also immersed himself in the Bulldogs' Local School Visit Program over the years. 

Elliott's story is one of many inspirational tales to emerge in the NRL's Indigenous Round that will see all 16 teams were specially-designed jerseys, gift exchanges take place on the field as well as an alternative national anthem to be recited before each game.

"I believe this round is extremely important for NRL clubs and players, but also for the general population; in particular young kids who follow the NRL," Elliott told NRL.com. 

"I think it's a massive show of appreciation for Aboriginal people. 

"Aboriginal people in Australia probably strive to play two main sports in Australia – rugby league and AFL – so to have a round like this is a powerful tool to connect with kids wanting to get involved with the game. 

"Rugby league is a great way for kids to set goals and to have an idol who's a good role model for them to look up to. Too often you see kids come from broken families so they don't receive enough guidance from a young age, and I believe the NRL and the players provide plenty of exposure to help those who need it."

The 22-year-old has seen firsthand the impact rugby league players can have on the Indigenous community and believes it's an honour to be considered a role model by generation next. 

"I think the majority of the time NRL players are great role models and they do plenty of work in the community, whether that's through hospital visits, school clinics and a number of other things," Elliott said.  

"Children – especially those from an Indigenous background – tend to follow what their idols do, so we as players can only hope that we're inspiring them to work hard and chase their dreams."

This article first appeared on NRL.com