NRL boss says the code will support Ackerman family
"I AM what I am. A footballer."
James Ackerman's Year 12 English essay says it all about the 25-year-old Falcons' forward.
A young man who lived and breathed rugby league and touched the lives of all who knew him.
Former coach Rob Brough read out the essay at James' funeral yesterday, held on a gloriously green Sunshine Coast Stadium field, it became clear this man loved his footy as much as others loved him.
"Most of all, I'm a footballer," the essay read.
The former Broncos under-20 was never blessed with freakish ability, but he had determination in spades.
His uncles remembered a competitive young bloke who loved his family, and a man whose priorities rightly shifted, once he welcomed his own kids into the world.
His mates paid tribute to a quiet bloke who was partial to a cheeky punt, and whose sense of humour came to the fore with a drink or two.
A straight-talker who led with his actions and a man who inherited his qualities from an incredible family.
As a youngster playing footy in Dubbo, the shift to Caloundra had been made easier through his love of league.
Having played for Redcliffe Dolphins for a number of seasons, Ackerman had finally moved home to help rebuild the Falcons.
Falcons' skipper Tom Murphy spoke of his devastation at the loss of his 'brother' in a video tribute to James at yesterday's funeral.
"Nothing fazed him," James' mate, Tyson Brough said.
"I'll never forget Ackers' carefree laugh."
As the tributes flowed, NRL CEO Dave Smith spoke after the service of his pride at the way the game had rallied around the Ackerman family in their darkest times.
"I think the QRL, the NRL, all of the local clubs have done a fabulous job so we need to keep supporting the family I think," Smith said.
"They're an amazingly courageous family and they're going through tragedy and it's a very sad thing for anybody to go through so we will make sure we keep supporting the family.
"I think today's (yesterday) about a celebration of James' life really and nobody can help but be moved by what we've just seen and I think the impression that young man's created on so many people in the game and out of the game and I think the way the game comes together in these sorts of tragedies makes you proud.
"The service was incredibly moving and ... the game will be stronger as a result of this and we will continue to support the family and particularly his lovely wife and his two, little kids."