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Shaun Spence: an everyday inspiration

Holly Burfitt  |  23 August 2018

Commentator, playing consultant and media personality are several of the roles that beckon retired rugby league players. Few however, will go on to fulfil roles that have a direct impact on their local communities. Shaun Spence is one of those rare individuals.

After his NRL career was cut short and forced retirement left him pondering his future, Shaun discovered his passion lay with working within the community. Currently employed as the Wests Tigers community engagement manager, I was keen to find out what Shaun enjoys most about his role. ‘I love being able to make an impact on the lives of others’, he said.

Hearing him speak passionately, it became evident that Shaun’s drive to be involved with the community extended far beyond working hours, so I asked him about his community involvement outside of his position.

‘I coach the Australian Physical Disability Rugby League team, where I get to work with people with different types of disabilities. They give me great perspective in my life and I’ve made lifelong friends through this.’

When he’s not coaching in his downtime, Shaun’s working week has him responsible for more than 60 different programs overseen by the West Tigers that vary from working with disengaged high schoolers to those that tackle abuse issues.

When probed about what he gains from his work he explained it this simply: ‘Most days the participants teach me more about passion, perspective and energy than I would hope for.’

Although my time spent with Shaun Spence had been brief, I was left feeling well and truly inspired by such a generous individual. My final question was answered when, as we were about to part ways, Shaun remarked, ‘The feeling that I get from helping someone is the best feeling in the world and I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to have that impact, so I want to use it as much as I can.’

If only we could all give this much passion and energy when sharing our time and talents within our community, surely that would work towards making our world a better place.

Holly Burfitt is from St Justin's Primary School, Oran Park, NSW.


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