Former Canberra Raiders captain and cult hero Alan Tongue's work in the prevention of domestic violence was recently and duly recognised at the ACT's Violence Prevention Awards.
Tongue was the recipient of the Education Partnership of the Year award for his own program – in conjunction with the ACT's Domestic Violence Crisis Service and with the help of Barnados – for his efforts in changing the behaviours of young males.
Tongue's efforts have gone well beyond the 12 months his program has been running in local ACT high schools, as he has also played a part in the New South Wales government's Tackling Domestic Violence program over the past five years.
More recently, Tongue has spearheaded the NRL's 'Voice against Violence' campaign.
"To win an award in the education space was great. It's something you don't do this work for but it was nice to be recognised," Tongue told NRL.com.
"I'm fortunate now having done all that work with the NSW government and in the ACT that I'm now working as part of the NRL's 'Voice against Violence' which I'm really excited and passionate about.
"Being able to go back to our grassroots football clubs at the 16s and 18s and having that conversation, using rugby league as our vehicle, really helps get that message across.
"It's a perfect synergy for me using rugby league, talking to young men and being able to get it to our junior clubs because it's something I'm passionate about."
While the 220-game Raider and former Country Origin representative remains passionate about rugby league and the vehicle it provides in influencing behaviours, he doesn't believe it is essential when addressing issues of domestic violence.
"Rugby league helps but I think it's more about the way that the program is delivered, the activities involved and the workshop itself. That's the main part in connecting with the kids," Tongue said.
"I must admit though that the way I deliver my stuff has a real sporty, rugby league-focus to it because it's been in my blood ever since I was a young kid.
"I'm really fortunate that rugby league is so valued in my life so I try to continue that theme on in all the work that I do."
Tongue remains diligent in a number of fields in his post-football career. His work in the NRL's community space involving education and welfare is balanced with his own programs in the ACT.
You might also hear the 35-year-old from time to time doing rugby league commentary with Fox Sports and ABC radio.
"I love the variety of the work that I do. It's one thing I enjoy and one of the things I really miss about playing is the variety you had: the different training sessions that you needed to do and the different places you travel to," Tongue said.
"But now I have that in my work. I have a diverse background with what I do and I learn a lot about myself in terms of what makes me tick.
"I need to have challenges and variety and while it's a juggling act – and I probably need to settle down in some areas to have a bit more time with my beautiful family – there's still so much good work that needs to be done out there in the community."
This article first appeared on NRL.com