It’s the cause driving Connor Watson and saw him nominated for the Ken Stephen Medal.
While he didn’t win the award, there’s no doubting the impact it caused for the indigenous community.
Heading into indigenous round last season, the nib Newcastle Knights teamed up with Cultural Choice Association (CCA) to raise awareness and to support the prevention of Indigenous youth suicide in Australia, an idea sparked by Watson himself.
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While he only made headlines for his efforts this season, it had been over three years in the making.
“I started the charity with my parents,” Watson told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“It started when I got the scholarship to go down to Knox, and my parents spoke to me about how good the opportunity was.
“We wanted to be able to go and do that for people who couldn’t afford it, because we wouldn’t have been able to afford it. That was a thing.”
Watson and his parents, Mark and Jodie, are the recognised founders of the CCA and have been assisting the indigenous youth since 2016.
“It started out with the idea of helping out and education, and my Dad was an Aboriginal education officer on the Central Coast, so he worked throughout the High Schools in the Tuggerah Lakes secondary colleges,” he said.
“It was there where he noticed just how big the disparity was between the Indigenous kids and the non-Indigenous kids was.
“So, we wanted to be able to go help the Indigenous kids from the country and ones who aren’t going to get a great education out there to come down here and give them the opportunity to do so.”
A family tragedy solidified the Watson’s desire to help the community.
“In 2017 my cousin Parker took his life. When that happened, and obviously speaking to different people and having chats with Robbo, who sort of sparked the idea a bit because he told me how bad it is.
“I spoke to Mum and Dad and said why don’t we start a foundation in his honour, to bring awareness to indigenous youth suicide and prevent it.”
Come May last year, the cause officially reached the Knights agenda heading into their famous indigenous round victory over the Roosters.
It was a chat with a fellow Knights player which sparked the lightbulb moment.
“Every year for indigenous round I got dad to paint my boots…it was good for me to be able to wear something that was so special that meant so much to me, to help me represent my culture,” Watson said.
“When I came up here and got mine done, Aidan (Guerra) asked if I could get a pair for him next year. From that in 2018, I auctioned my boots off and put the money back into the charity.
“It sparked me, why don’t we see if we can get all the boys to donate boots, and get them painted, and then auction them all off to raise some money and make some real change.”
The dynamic utility has also performed community work with Kirinari Hostel, The Glen Centre and Baxter Juvenile Detention Centre.
It’s work he’s not planning on stopping any time soon.
“Rates are only getting worse, and if no one does anything about it it’ll keep getting worse,” Watson said.
“What my family went through, I don’t want anyone else to have to go through.
“The thing is, as I do this stuff, as much as they get from me, I get from them.
“It’s a really good way to stay grounded.”