PORT Macquarie Boardrider Benjamin Collins has his own special story to tell.
The 20-year-old was born premature and suffered a hearing impairment as a result.
He only let it define who he was for half of his school years, then decided enough was enough.
Fresh from winning another players player award in the Boardies 30-4 Hastings League loss to Kendall, Collins wants to inspire young children to follow his lead.
He doesn’t see his hearing impairment as something which could have a detrimental impact to the way he lives his life.
“When I was younger I got picked on a bit (because of the impairment) and was a hopeless football player, but age came and I came to realise that you can go anything you put your mind to,” he said.
Collins words of advice for both boys and girls in a similar situation is to embrace their point of difference.
“Whatever you want to do don’t let your disability or something so minor get in the way of who you are,” he said.
“And it is something minor in the general scheme of things.”
He admitted there were varying levels of difficulty in playing a sport such as rugby league and it meant he had to use other ways to pick up what plays the team were about to run.
“The main challenge for me has been trying to hear the plays or what people are saying to me so I focus on facial expressions,” he said.
“Sometimes I won’t listen to what someone tells me and I’ll do my own thing so I get away with it.”
He said he owed a lot to the Boardriders club who had embraced his family.
“I’ve been ticking off goals as I go – playing footy and getting a job,” he said.
“My whole family has been around the Boardriders and that’s why I love playing for them.”
His main advice?
“Don’t be afraid; keep your head up, keep setting your goals and be happy with who you are.”