Jeff Robson, a 177-game NRL veteran, teams up with Amanda King to deliver the Sharks Education and Welfare programs, in assisting the current playing group with their football-life balance.
Their role is to guide and help with educational activities, while tending to the welfare needs of the players, staff and when and where required, their families.
All encompassing, the Education and Welfare assistance they provide stretches from the NRL playing group, through the grades to academy, junior rep and to the Sharks women’s teams, in carrying out their important role for all players under the club’s umbrella.
Robson held down the fort from the Sharks Cronulla headquarters, while King travelled with the team to Queensland to offer welfare support to players and their families in the unfamiliar and somewhat unique hotel bubble situation they found themselves in.
From the education standpoint, many embrace the help they receive, setting themselves up for success away from rugby league, with an estimated 90 per cent of the NRL squad involved in career engagement, which means they are either studying, in work experience or attending TAFE.
Wellbeing and the support a player gives to his teammates and the playing group is difficult to quantify, therefore singling out one player for an award encompassing excellence in both areas, as handed down at the end of each season, becomes a difficult assignment.
That being said, one member of the Sharks NRL team set the example for others to follow in going over and above throughout the challenges presented during the recent season, with Aiden Tolman the Sharks Wellbeing and Education Excellence Award winner for 2021,
“Aiden is the ultimate professional on and off the field,” Robson said. “He is a smart guy who is self sufficient and enjoys his studies away from football. It keeps him engaged in preparing for life after footy.
“He also has a great work ethic and is an excellent mentor and role model for the entire playing group,” Robson added.
King presented Tolman with his award at an end of season event held on Monday in their Brisbane hotel.
“Aiden is very switched on. He is positive around the group, mentoring to the younger players and is a leader on and off the field,” King said.
From the confines of their Queensland hub, Tolman has continued with his studies, where he works towards completing a Batchelor of Arts and Batchelor of Education double degree, with ambitions to become a school teacher once his NRL career comes to an end.
Tolman’s achievements and dedication on and off the field mirrors the efforts of a number of players, who guided by Robson and King engage in various study options and are steered into areas which suit their interests, strengths and future career ambitions, with many involved in studying certificates in fitness, business and youth work, amongst a variety of other courses.
Connor Tracey and Billy Magoulias were both named in the 2020 NRL Academic Team of the Year, Tracey for completing a Bachelor of Accounting and Financial Services degree and Magoulias who graduated from his Wollongong University Business course, with Tolman certainly in line to receive similar recognition in 2021.