Aquis Titans forward Luke Douglas has been nominated for the 2015 Ken Stephen Medal for his dedication to charity and community work. The prestigious honour recognises the contribution and dedication made by NRL players in the wider community.
The Ken Stephen Medal is named after the NSWRL administrator who dedicated 28 years of service to the game. Rugby League legends Wayne Pearce, Paul Harragon, Nathan Hindmarsh, Hazem El Masri, David Peachey, the Titans’ Preston Campbell and Johnathan Thurston have won the medal, adding to the prestige of the accolade.
For ‘Dougie’ to win the award he needs our Titans members and fans to get online and vote for him, making him the second Titan to win the award behind ‘Presto’ in 2008.
A fitting nomination, Douglas – who will play every game this season and still has not missed one through injury in his career - has been a consistently active member of the Gold Coast community since he joined the Titans in 2011, placing in the club’s top five players each year for hours working in the community.
Luke has a significant list of contributions to the community to his name. One special gesture was asking his wedding guests in February to make charitable donations instead of providing gifts, so he could set up a trust fund to help young athletes on the NSW far north coast where he grew up.
His other passion is the partnership between the Titans and the Down Syndrome Association of Queensland.
Titans community and game development manager Renee Cohen said Luke’s generosity often goes unnoticed, with the big prop regularly undertaking spontaneous community work on his own accord.
“He’s always the first to put his hand up to help the club and help out the community, a lot of the times I don’t even know half the stuff he does,” she said.
“He doesn’t do it for any accolades; he does it because he’s a genuine good person. There’s not a person I know that would go more out of their way to help anyone that they meet, he’ll talk or help anybody he meets.”
The driving force behind Luke’s extensive involvement with the disabled community is to honour his late mother, Trish, who worked as a teacher for disabled children throughout her life. During the summer months, Luke spends his time teaching disabled children how to surf.
“His mum’s influence has been a massive thing for him, coming from a small community that is all about rugby league, I think he’s just grown up with it and I think it’s given him a good platform to mentor the younger players to do that as well because they know how important it is,” Renee said.
Luke is also an active participant in multiple aspects of the junior rugby league community. He coaches an under-13s team for the Burleigh Bears, is an ambassador for the Titans JRL Ambassador Program and frequently visits his local Yamba club, the Lower Clarence Magpies. He also helps out away from the football club, as Renee recently discovered.
“I recently found out a story that Dougie was holidaying in Ballina and someone came up to him in a restaurant and said they had a junior rugby league presentation the next day, so on his holidays he spent all Sunday giving out trophies and kicking the footy around with the kids,” she said.
As one of the most experienced players in the Titans squad, Douglas continues to be a good role model for the younger players on the Titans team, leading by example when it comes to the dedication and responsibility required when conducting community visits.
“The younger players know Dougie isn’t someone who does it for the rewards, he does it because he loves doing it and he wants to make sure people feel supported like he has,” Renee said.
“I think it’s great for the younger players to see someone like him, no matter the situation or how the team is doing, Dougie is the first one helping out. There would be no more worthy recipient of the Ken Stephen Medal.”
Embarrassed by the attention, Douglas tried to convince Renee to choose another player when he was told about the nomination.
“He just said, ‘couldn’t there be someone else you could nominate?’, that tells me he’s humbled and does it for the right reasons.”